Florida gov gives an update on Hurricane Michael preparation

Florida gov gives an update on Hurricane Michael preparation

As it moves into the warm gulf waters, the storm is expected to intensify to a Category 3 hurricane, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to Florida's panhandle when it makes landfall sometime on Wednesday, October 10.

Additional strengthening is expected during the next few days, and Michael is forecast to become a hurricane Monday night or Tuesday.

Energy companies halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated staff from 10 platforms on Monday as Michael was forecast to become the strongest of three named storms to affect the U.S. Gulf of Mexico this year.

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.

As of Monday morning, the storm passed close to the Yucatan Peninsula with maximum sustained winds around 75 miles per hour.

A hurricane warning covered Florida's Gulf Coast from the Alabama state line to the Suwannee River.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Panhandle and Big Bend areas while coastal Manatee County and area waters are under a Tropical Storm Watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum canceled campaign events in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the storm, his campaign said. Mobile and Baldwin Counties are also under a Hurricane Watch.

By 8 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds had risen some to 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as it headed north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph). The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center, according to the weather center.

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As of the 5 p.m. advisory, Michael is now a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Aside from winds potentially nearing 200 km/h, the storm's main impacts are expected to include extreme rainfall (up to and exceeding 250 mm in the worst-hit areas of the panhandle), flooding, the the potential for "life-threatening" mudslides in mountainous areas along its route. From Navarre, westward to the Baldwin County line, a Storm Surge Watch covers that area.

In Florida, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 election, canceled campaign events and returned to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations.

Hurricane conditions have spread over portions of western Cuba this afternoon, where a hurricane warning is now in effect.

As of Monday evening, Michael was a Category 1 Hurricane, with winds of 135 km/h.

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael.

A satellite image of Tropical Storm Michael taken Monday. "It is forecast to move very quickly and there would not be the rain like we had before".

The storm's center track for now is projected to take Michael northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon.

In the storm's wake, the NHC said, "Michael is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days".

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