Storm Near Gulf of Mexico Aims for Florida’s Panhandle

Tropical development likely in the Gulf over the next few days	 	 	 			Tropical development is looking more likely this week

The timing and trajectory of the storm could change as it heads north. But it rapidly intensified, and its top winds clocked in at 60 miles per hour (95 kph) by late Sunday evening. A warning for the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, was canceled late Monday.

Meteorologists said a hurricane building in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to bring tropical storm force winds and heavy rain to Lowndes County and the rest of South Georgia later this week.

Michael, which formed near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain - and as much as 12 inches in some areas - on western Cuba before it hits the United States. The rains in Cuba's west were expected to begin Sunday night and continue Monday.

Southwest's waiver also covers flights at Cancun, Mexico, and Havana, Cuba, though waiver dates are different for those airports. Winds are up to 70 miles per hour and is moving to the north at 7 miles per hour.

Michael is forecast to eventually make landfall as a hurricane Wednesday afternoon along the Florida panhandle. It's expected to speed up slightly through Tuesday night as it passes between Mexico and Cuba, before tacking northeast on Wednesday and Thursday. A storm surge of up to 12 feet is forecast for a large section of the Florida coast.

Michael expected to gain hurricane strength nearing Florida
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. The governor warned that there is potential for "devastating impact to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend".

Even if that track holds, however, Michael's effect on schedules at those airports would depend on whether the storm brought heavy winds and severe weather that far inland.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

Right now, the National Hurricane Center's forecast path shows Michael may make landfall between Pensacola and Destin, Florida, on Wednesday.

According to the 5 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael was close to becoming a hurricane. Tropical storm winds extended out 205 miles, primarily east of the storm's center. "Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of this system and follow any advice given by local officials".

A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth and the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel. Preparation for a potential hurricane landfall needs to be complete by Tuesday. Leslie was moving east-southeast at 13 miles per hour.

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