Hurricane Michael expected to strengthen as it approaches Florida

Fred Still unseasonably hot

The 75-mph storm could reach major hurricane strength by the time it approaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

Hurricane Michael is just days away from making landfall in Florida, and later this week, it could bring between one to four inches of rain to parts of southern New England, forecasters said.

"While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees", Tallahassee officials said in a statement.

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.

Tropical storm watches are in effect from the Alabama/Florida line to the Alabama/Mississippi line and from the Suwannee River to Tampa Bay.

Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

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"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said Sunday following a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center. Scott also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of the storm.

"Everybody's got to get ready".

The chance for tropical storm-force winds in Volusia and Flagler counties ranges from 20 to 40 percent as the storm moves northward to the west, the National Hurricane Center said, with the higher chances in the northern part of the two-county area, as the storm moves toward a landfall on the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday. Tropical storm winds extended out 280 kilometres from the storm's centre.

Michael's maximum sustained winds had reached 70 miles per hour, it said.

At the moment, the storm is sitting on strength of 75mph, and will set into the United States by Tuesday October 9. The forecast projects Tallahassee, where Gillum is mayor, will be directly hit. Here's what you need to know as the storm continues to strengthen over the next few days.

The storm is 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico - 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba, according to an 11 a.m. ET advisory. Hurricane watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area. "It's why we always talk about Gulf storms in October", Phillips wrote on Facebook earlier this morning.

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