Michael gaining strength as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico

Potential Tropical Cyclone Could Hit The US This Week

“Michael” Could be in Our Forecast by End of Week

The latest track shows a weakening Michael moving either directly through, or at least near central Georgia as a tropical storm.

Uncertainty is evident though over the actual landfall strength of a hurricane Michael and it remains too early to speculate how the storm may behave, but right now a strong hurricane landfall in the Panhandle region looks nearly assured, putting the insurance, reinsurance, catastrophe bond and insurance-linked securities (ILS) markets on watch for more potential losses. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days. Monday will bring sustained east southeast winds at 10-20 miles per hour, with occasional higher gusts.

The system is expected to bring rain around the same time the King Tide is expected, making St. Augustine and other areas more vulnerable to flooding.

The Hurricane Center predicts unsafe surf conditions will start to appear along the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

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

The storm is expected to further strengthen into a hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday as its center moves over the Yucatan Channel, crosses the Gulf of Mexico and nears the Florida Panhandle coast sometime Wednesday.

Hurricane Michael is located 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico and is moving to the north at 7 mph (11 km/h).

The exact track and timing of Michael still remains uncertain, so exact impacts will change as the forecast becomes more clear.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

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Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

The Commodity Weather Group said on Sunday there might be some precautionary evacuation of oil rigs in the area affected by the storm, which may slow down operations but not likely cause much interruption. Storms with winds of at least 111 miles per hour are designated as "major" hurricanes.

A hurricane watch is in effect along the Alabama-Florida border down to the Suwanee River.

When looking at the forecast cone, remember this represents where the center of the storm will go, and it could be anywhere within the cone of uncertainty.

Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, opened two locations Sunday where residents could get sandbags to prepare for flooding.

An Air Force hurricane hunter airplane was sent into the storm to investigate, the hurricane center said.

Scott had already announced Sunday morning he would declare a state of emergency due to the storm.

Tropical Storm Michael's impacts could be similar to what was seen during Hurricane Hermine, when 80 percent of Tallahassee lost power.

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