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Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

A tropical storm that rapidly formed off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has gained new strength and could become a risky Category 2 hurricane with an expected midweek strike on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle, forecasts say.

Tropical storm Michael formed off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Sunday, and quickly strengthened to hurricane status by Monday, faster than expected. Michael is moving toward the north at 5.0 miles per hour (7.0 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (95 kph) and a minimum central pressure that has fallen to 997 MB or 29.44 inches.

After landfall, Michael is expected to weaken as it tracks quickly northeast, and the forecast track brings the center across southeast Georgia and southeast SC in the Wednesday night and Thursday time period.

"As we continue to monitor this storm's path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe".

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

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Governor Scott has also activated 500 national guard troops, and the Florida Highway Patrol is also preparing to activate more than 340 state troopers in 12-hour shifts.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next several days, and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later today.

The storm, which was 100 miles south-southwest of the western edge of Cuba as of 5 a.m., is moving north at 7 mph, toward the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane Tuesday morning and continues to strengthen as it moves north in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

In a news conference Sunday evening in Tallahassee, Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that the storm could have far-reaching effects, regardless of where it lands. Hurricane Watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area.

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Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee who is vying to succeed Scott as the state's governor, has called off campaign events on Monday and Tuesday to focus on storm preparation, CNN reported.

"Nearly all of the intensity models bring the cyclone to hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico in 2 to 3 days", the 10 a.m. Sundayforecast discussion by the National Hurricane Center said.

The next tropical storm name on the hurricane center's list is Michael.

Michael was lashing western Cuba late Monday morning with heavy rains and strong winds, according to the hurricane center.

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