Hurricane Michael prompts Alabama to declare state of emergency

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Baltimore Fleet Week and Air Show Oct. 7

The National Hurricane Center reports Michael is forecast to be a risky major hurricane when it reaches the Gulf Coast on Wednesday with life-threatening storm surge possible along portions of the state, including Manatee County, which could see up to a four-foot storm surge.

Fueled by warm tropical waters, fast-strengthening Michael could gain major hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour before its anticipated landfall Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend area of Florida, forecasters have warned.

A Hurricane Watch was issued for the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River.

"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.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on October 7 declared a state of emergency for several areas in Florida and "also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas".

The Tampa, Florida, area isn't expecting a direct hit from Michael, but the city and surrounding areas, especially along the coast, will be seeing some higher-than-normal winds and a fair amount of rain from the outer bands of the storm. "Don't take a chance", he said.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move northeast on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.

This would make the storm a major hurricane with maximum sustained winds of between 111 and 129 miles per hour. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

The hurricane is expected to make landfall in the United States Wednesday night.

In the Caribbean, a hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

Late Sunday, Gillum's campaign announced he scrapped campaign stops planned Monday and Tuesday in South Florida to return to Tallahassee to "focus on preparing the city of Tallahassee and residents" for the storm. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) primarily to the east of the center.

Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state.

Michael is set to become a hurricane sometime today.

By late Monday afternoon, Close said folks across Tampa Bay will see quick-moving storms pass through the area as the hurricane's outer bands begin to reach Florida. A hurricane watch is in place from the Alabama-Florida border east to the Suwanee.

Outer rainbands from Michael are already soaking the Florida Keys, and rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are likely there through Tuesday.

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