Tropical Storm Michael Will Become a Hurricane Monday

Tropical Storm Michael Will Become a Hurricane Monday

Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 178 kph by Tuesday night before an expected strike on Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center. Michael became a hurricane early Monday, forecasters said, crossing a critical threshold as it churned by the western tip of Cuba. The heavy rainfall could lead to "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides", the National Hurricane Center warned. "Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area by Tuesday night or early Wednesday", the NHC added. "Even if your flight is not canceled, you may make a one-time change to your ticket without fee if you are scheduled to travel to, from, or through the following destination (s) on Delta, Delta Connection, or Delta-coded flights during the specified time periods listed below", Delta said on its website.

As forecast, Michael would be the first Category 3 or higher hurricane to hit the Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in Flagler County on Wednesday and Thursday, the Weather Service office in Jacksonville said Sunday, warning that minor flooding might be possible in low-lying or poorly drained areas.

Michael rapidly intensified from Sunday 11 a.m. EDT to Monday 11 a.m. EDT when its winds increased from 35 mph to 75 mph in that 24-hour period.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations.

Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, and Hurlburt and Eglin officials said in social media posts over the -past two days that they were watching the storm as it develops.

Jefferson Somerset K-12 school will be opened as a shelter by county emergency management at noon Tuesday.

Scott has also extended his state of emergency order to include Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, and Baker Counties.

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Jeff Hanson, the owner of Paisley Cafe in Tallahassee, said he was waiting until Wednesday morning to determine whether he would close the restaurant.

"It depends on what the city says in terms of the people getting around".

"Rainfall is the big concern", said Panovich.

BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday began evacuating personnel from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production platforms.

Hurricane watches are already in place for parts of the panhandle, and tropical storm watches are in place for parts of south Georgia just outside our viewing area.

More than 45 per cent of the nation's refining capacity is located along the US Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 per cent of total US natural gas processing capability.

Forecasters advised residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm's progress.

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