Michael grows to Category 1 hurricane, aims for Florida Gulf Coast

Still far off, Tropical Storm Michael a growing menace to Florida Panhandle

Michael grows to Category 1 hurricane, aims for Florida Gulf Coast

Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin.

Sustained winds of tropical storm force - 39 miles per hour or greater - are possible in parts of metro Atlanta as soon as Wednesday morning.

A hurricane watch is now posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida, including Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee.

The storm became hurricane status with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour in forecasters' update Monday morning, triggering warnings of a life-threatening storm surge that could hit the Florida Gulf Coast.

While Michael remained a tropical storm throughout the weekend, the system reached hurricane status on Monday as a Category 1 with nowhere left to go but up.

Manatee County also was included in Scott's request that President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency in those 35 counties in preparation for Hurricane Michael. Far inland, from the Florida Panhandle into Georgia and the Carolinas, rainfall totals are predicted to be up to 8 inches, with a foot of rain possible in isolated areas.

School District of Manatee County officials said in a statement Monday afternoon the district is "working closely with local and state Emergency Management officials to monitor the movements and potential impact of Hurricane Michael". Risky winds and several inches of rain are likely.

Michael pounded western Cuba with heavy rain and strong winds and is forecast to make landfall as a hurricane midweek on the northeastern US Gulf Coast.

For all the latest information on Hurricane Michael visit the National Hurricane Center online.

By 11 a.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 75 miles per hour. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to 30 centimetres of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Tropical Storm Michael was upgraded to a hurricane on Monday as it proceeded toward the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said.

Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, opened two locations Sunday where residents could get sandbags to prepare for flooding. There is also a threat of tornadoes, especially if the storm moves to the west of Myrtle Beach.

Once the storm makes landfall, some projections estimate that it could make its way across Georgia and into North and SC before moving out into the Atlantic ocean.

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