Michael is hurricane, more watches issued for growing storm


The storm's projected path shows Michael staying west of peninsular Florida, making a landfall somewhere along the Panhandle on Wednesday.

Michael has been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it continues to move toward the Gulf Coast of the United States.

"We expect Hurricane Michael to make landfall between Panama City, Florida, and Apalachicola, Florida, sometime later Wednesday or Wednesday night", AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said in a report.

Hurricane Michael will also create conditions for a tornado to potentially form. Over very warm waters and light upper level winds, the Hurricane Center said the storm could rapidly intensify over the next 24 to 36 hours.

The storm was centered about 80 kilometers off the western tip of Cuba, and about 220 kilometers east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Throughout Tuesday, Close said these storms will increase in scope and a few thunderstorms will emerge.

FSU said it is prepared to handle students' needs during the storm and that campus residence halls and dining facilities will remain open.

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Scott, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has not yet adjusted his campaign schedule but is working on the state's response to the storm, including activating 500 National Guard troops.

The sixth named storm and first major hurricane, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane the morning of September 14 at Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Hurricane force winds extend up to 30 miles from Michael's center, while tropical storm force winds extend up to 175 miles. He added that the effects of the storm could have similarities to Hurricane Hermine, which caused lengthy power outages in the Tallahassee area two years ago.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida. The National Weather Service says the threat of "life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall, and risky winds" is increasing along the northeastern Gulf Coast.

"All indications are that it's going to be severe", said City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, adding that if the storm hits Florida's capital, there would be significant tree damage and power outages.

A storm surge watch is in effect for a long swath of Florida's coast, from Navarre east of Pensacola to Anna Maria Island, south of Tampa Bay. Florida has already declared an emergency in 26 counties. It was moving slowly north at 7 miles per hour - a speed that is expected to increase through Tuesday night.