Michael upgraded to hurricane, heads toward Florida

Storms most likely path spares La., but forecasters urge caution

Michael is now a major hurricane with max sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and gusts to 150 miles per hour. "Additional strengthening is indicated through 72 hours when the storm is forecast to be near the northern Gulf coast".

We will continue to track it closely and will keep you updated. Tropical storm winds extended out 170 miles (275 kilometers), primarily to the northeast and southeast of the storm's center.

In addition, those living the coastal communities need to be aware of strong rip currents, and potential storm surge threats, likely beginning on Wednesday. However, forecast information will change and anyone with interests from Biloxi, Mississippi to Gulf Shores, Alabama to the Big Bend of Florida should continue to monitor this situation.

The winds have increased to 35 miles per hour.

By declaring this state of emergency, Gov. Scott said he is ensuring that state and local government has ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 275 miles from the center.

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Florida's Panhandle and big bend area came under a hurricane watch Monday morning after Tropical Storm Michael rapidly intensified from the day before, poised to become a major hurricane before it makes landfall later in the week. Swells generated by Michael will affect the south coast of Cuba and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael gathers strength in the Caribbean and barrels toward the Florida Panhandle. Outer rain bands of the storm are expected to also produce total rain totals of 2-4 inches across the Florida Keys through Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Michael moves near the western tip of Cuba. This could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

The Florida panhandle will be hardest hit, with parts of the Tallahassee and Panama City areas getting 12 inches of rainfall along with damaging winds.

"While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees", Tallahassee officials said in a statement.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee who is vying to succeed Scott as the state's governor, has called off campaign events on Monday and Tuesday to focus on storm preparation, CNN reported.

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