Michael reaches hurricane strength as it churns toward Florida

Tracking Michael What You Need to Know

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday as it churned in the Caribbean.

Winds in the 40 to 50 miles per hour range will reach the SC border as early as 8 p.m. Wednesday, says the center.

Hurricane Michael is approaching northern Florida and as Gov. Rick Scott expanded his state of emergency declaration to include Manatee County, local officials are urging residents to be prepared but have not issued a state of emergency.

Though Michael's impact on Northeast Florida could be hard to predict, emergency operation centers in the area are preparing for the storm.

The good news from Hurricane Michael is that once the storm exits the Southeast, it is expected to take the higher-than-average October temperatures with it.

A Hurricane Watch is now in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida.

Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph) by Tuesday night before an expected strike on Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center. There is also a threat of tornadoes, especially if the storm moves to the west of Myrtle Beach.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The National Hurricane Center expected Michael to become a hurricane later in the day.

The governor warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path. A storm surge watch is in place from Pensacola to Anna Maria Island, meaning storm surge could be between 2 and 4 feet in the Tampa Bay area.

A storm surge warning - meaning risky flooding could strike in the next 36 hours - is in effect for a long swath of Florida's coast, from the Okaloosa-Walton county line east of Pensacola to the Anclote River, just north of Tampa Bay.

This time around, Gillum says he and Governor Scott have talked about the city's needs more than once.

Almost a month after Hurricane Florence created unprecedented flooding, the Grand Strand is in another storm's path. Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin.

Scott said 500 Florida National Guard members had been activated for planning, logistics and response, and another 5,000 stood at the ready.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for western Cuba.

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, according to the agency.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

Once the storm moves onto land, it will start to slow down and will most likely be significantly weaker than it is now, Steve Pfaff, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said.

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