Tropical Storm Michael Could Turn Into 'Devastating' Hurricane Before It Hits Florida

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Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say Michael will move over very warm waters and could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph) by Tuesday night.

Tropical Storm Watches and Hurricane Watches have been issued for portions of the Gulf Coast from Alabama-Mississippi border to Tampa Bay, Florida.

Tropical storm Michael is expected to intensify as it travels northwards in the Caribbean sea and it may have a major effect on USA oil production and transportation by mid-week.

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Currently, the storm has 75 mph winds and is 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and 140 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, the hurricane forecasting agency said.

"The updated NHC forecast is near the upper-end of the guidance and calls for rapid strengthening over the next 24 hours, and brings Michael to major hurricane status", the latest forecast says. Tropical storm to hurricane force winds are less than four days away from the United States.

Hurricane watches have been posted from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida which is just to the northwest of Cedar Key on Florida's west coast. Michael is now about 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and is expected to make landfall along the Florida panhandle this week.

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Michael is the 13th named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, according to hurricane centre spokesman Dennis Feltgen. "This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe". "Don't take a chance", continued Scott, who activated 500 National Guard Troops in advance of the storm. It will bring risky storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain. Gillum played out his Sunday schedule, attending a South Florida fundraiser with billionaire Michael Bloomberg before flying back home. Gillum participated in meetings coordinating the response to the storm, but as the city's weak mayor has no official administrative duties.

Meanwhile, Scott, the Republican nominee for US Senate, will be leaving the campaign trail for the "next few days" to address storm preparations, a campaign spokesperson told CNN. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to 30 centimetres of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Swells are expected to begin affecting the coast of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico during the next day or so.

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