Tropical Storm Michael Could Attack Florida by Midweek, Gov. Rick Scott Plans to Declare State of Emergency
MIAMI, FLORIDA – October 8, 2018
Bad news for the residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast: Newly named Tropical Storm Michael could strengthen to a hurricane as it heads to the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday, advising northeastern Gulf Coast residents to monitor the storm’s progress in the week ahead.
The Hurricane Center upgraded the tropical depression in the Caribbean to a named tropical storm, saying it had winds of up to 40 mph and could strengthen into a category 1 or 2 hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday, with a dangerous storm surge, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall.
Tropical storm warnings have been posted for western Cuba and Mexico’s northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun. Tropical-storm-force winds (39+ mph) are expected to first reach the tropical storm warning area by early Monday morning, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
Rainfall totals of 3 to 7 inches are forecast over western Cuba, with 2 to 4 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize through Tuesday. Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches are possible in western Cuba.
These downpours could contribute to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides, particularly in areas of mountainous terrain.
Michael’s outer rainbands are also expected to produce 2 to 4 inches of rain across the Florida Keys through Tuesday.
On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he planned to declare a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area of the state. The declaration would free up resources for storm preparation.
“As we continue to monitor this storm’s northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe and prepared,” Scott said in a statement.
The north Florida city of Tallahassee opened two locations on Sundays where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding.
The city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, “Be sure you have your emergency plan in place.”
Hurricane watches will likely be posted along the northeastern Gulf Coast of the U.S. on Monday. An Air Force hurricane hunter airplane was being sent into the storm to investigate, the Hurricane Center said.
Michael is the thirteenth named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, according to hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen.