Potential Gulf hurricane prompts state of emergency

Nicondra Tropical Storm In the Gulf of Mexico Likely

Nicondra Tropical Storm In the Gulf of Mexico Likely

Tropical Storm Michael is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane Monday afternoon and impact the Gulf Coast by the middle of the week. It is moving north at a speed of around 7 m.p.h.

The next tropical storm name on the hurricane center's list is Michael. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or dangerous.A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.Interests elsewhere across the southeastern United States should monitor the progress of Michael.

Hurricane watches are already in place for parts of the panhandle, and tropical storm watches are in place for parts of south Georgia just outside our viewing area.

Before Michael hits the United States, it's expected to dump 3 to 7 inches of rain on western Cuba.

According to the 5 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael was close to becoming a hurricane. It will then move northeastward across the southeastern U.S. Wednesday night. But within hours Sunday it had gained more punch and its top sustained winds clocked in at 60 mph (95 kph) by late Sunday evening. It is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday as its center moves over the Yucatan Channel, crosses the Gulf of Mexico and nears the Florida Panhandle coast sometime Wednesday.

With Tropical Storm Michael gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Rick Scott declared an emergency in 26 counties Sunday night including Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Tropical storm winds extended out 175 miles (280 kilometres) from the storm's centre. The storm has increased from winds of 35 miles per hour on Sunday to 75 miles per hour by late Monday morning. The Hurricane Center's statement said interests along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of the depression.

However, Masson says despite the shorter time frame, Michael will still produce heavy amounts of rain.

From there, all indications are that it will move farther north or to the northeast.

The Commodity Weather Group said on Sunday there might be some precautionary evacuation of oil rigs in the area affected by the storm, which may slow down operations but not likely cause much interruption.

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.

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