First Alert Weather: Michael forecast to become a major hurricane, impact Suncoast

Hurricane Alert Michael On His Way

Hurricane Alert Michael On His Way

"The main hazards will be gusty winds, flooding and isolated tornadoes", the National Weather Service's Hazardous Weather Outlook for South Florida said at 11 a.m. Monday.

"It's expected to become a Category 3 storm - a major hurricane".

In the Florida Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents who choose to ride out the storm that first responders won't be able to reach them during or immediately after Michael smashes into the coast. Comparable storms include Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which had a pressure of 922 mb, and Katrina in 2005, whose pressure was 920 mb.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Gov Scott said after he received a briefing at the state's emergency management centre. Some coastal counties, including Bay County and Gulf County, have been ordered to evacuate.

The system could be "a unsafe, major hurricane" along the northeastern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) and tropical-storm-force winds outward about 175 miles (280 kilometers). "It's started to slow down and strengthen out there in the Gulf and now we are looking at the possibility of a major hurricane hitting us dead on", he said.

Storm surge is likely to be catastrophic north of Crystal River north and west to the popular beach destination of Panama City. A broad swath of Florida's Big Bend is now projected to see a storm surge of anywhere from eight to twelve feet.

During a storm surge watch, residents face potentially life-threatening flooding during the 48 hours following the watch being issued.

He warned that the storm surge could be as high as 8ft-10ft in some parts of the Panhandle and 2ft-4ft in the Tampa Bay area.

Some southern Alabama counties were under a tropical storm watch, and high surf warnings were in effect on the coast. The hurricane warning stretches from Pensacola, Fla., eastward to near Cedar Key in the bend of Florida Panhandle.

Forecasters say the storm will gain more intensity through Tuesday, with a chance it will weaken somewhat as it nears land in Florida.

"You can't hide from storm surge", Gov. Scott said during a Tuesday morning press conference.

Heavy rain at the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America after Michael formed off the coast of northern Honduras.

The Gulf Coast is forecast to see tropical storm conditions Tuesday night or early Wednesday, ahead of the hurricane activity expected for Wednesday. Mandatory evacuations were issued for all non-residents in Franklin County, home to various tourist attractions like St. George Island.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, the National Hurricane Center reported, Hurricane Michael had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was about 60 miles northwest of Cuba.

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