"We expect less rain to fall when compared to Florence", said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. It would also be the strongest storm in terms of wind speed to make landfall in the country this year.
"On the forecast track, the center of Michael will pass near the western tip of Cuba within the next couple of hours and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by tonight". Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from its center of circulation, while tropical storm-force winds extend outward for 175 miles.
As of 5 a.m. ET Monday, Tropical Storm Michael was centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said. The area known as the Big Bend of Florida is one of the most vulnerable parts of the state for storm surge.
Forecasters say Hurricane Michael will strengthen into a major hurricane by late Tuesday as it continues on a risky path towards the southeastern US state of Florida. Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin.
The category-1 hurricane left dozens dead in the Carolinas and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said Sunday following a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center. The worst conditions for central Georgia will be Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
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Mandatory evacuations were under way in coastal areas, with 1,250 National Guard soldiers aiding the process and more than 4,000 troops placed on standby, according to the governor's office.
"Everybody's got to get ready". He specifically pointed to forecasts of 8-12 feet of storm surge that could reach miles in from shore.
The State of Emergency went into effect at 3 p.m. The bloom has spread to Florida's Panhandle and the Miami area.
Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael gathers strength in the Caribbean and barrels toward the Florida Panhandle. Michael was forecast to push through warm, relatively shallow Gulf of Mexico waters before moving inland over the northern Gulf coast of Florida. Storm Surge Watch covered Navarre, in the Panhandle, to Anna Maria Island.
The rainfall could lead to "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides in mountainous regions, the hurricane center said.
The storm was expected to brush the westernmost province of Pinar Del Rio, where most of Cuba's famed cigar tobacco is grown, before continuing north to the United States.
Hurricane-force winds and strong rain were being felt in Cuba. Officials also alerted residents living on the coast of the possibility of flooding caused by the storm.