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Michael gaining strength, churning toward Florida

11 October 2018

A hurricane warning and tropical storm watch are in place ahead of Michael's arrival.

By Monday morning, Tropical Storm Michael's maximum sustained winds were near 70 miles per hour (110 kph).

"Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast: storm surge, heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds", according to the hurricane center.

The big picture on where the storm is expected to go has also shifted some since Saturday afternoon, when tracking showed Michael crossing the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama as a tropical storm.

A tropical storm watch has also been issued for the Alabama coast, including Mobile.

Forecasters have warned that Michael's strength could be "catastrophic" for communities in its path - anywhere from Pensacola on the western flank of the Florida Panhandle to Tampa.

Outer bands from Michael are expected produce as much as 4 inches (10 cm) of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma past year.

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A hurricane warning from the National Weather Service was declared for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.

Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday during the 2 am advisory.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 miles per hour with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said.

Michael, now a Category 1 hurricane slashing Cuba, is forecast to be a "dangerous major hurricane" when it smacks the US Gulf Coast on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Rick Scott announced that he will on Sunday declare a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend as the state continues to monitor and prepare for what could become Hurricane Michael. Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches are possible in western Cuba.

"This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain", the NHC said. The storm will lose a lot of its punch and by the time it makes it this far north will barely be a Tropical Depression. Tampa Bay has about a 40 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds within the next five days. Swells generated by Michael will affect the south coast of Cuba and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The north Florida city of Tallahassee on Sunday opened two locations where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding.

Michael gaining strength, churning toward Florida