First Alert Weather: Michael forecast to become a major hurricane, impact Suncoast

According to the National Hurricane Center Michael was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Monday morning

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said in a news briefing. "Do not think you can survive it".

They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years.

"We haven't seen anything like this in the Panhandle in decades", Scott said at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center.

Traffic has built up along a coastal highway on Panama City Beach, as residents begin to board up and move out. We will likely see winds in the 10 to 20 miles per hour range with some possible gusts to 30 miles per hour.

You can text "ALALERT" to 888777 to receive information for Hurricane Michael from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

Ivey signed the emergency declaration Monday in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and heavy rain associated with the storm.

"Let's all stay safe and watch this storm closely".

The rainfall could lead to "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides in mountainous regions, the hurricane center said.

There was a storm surge warning in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Anclote River in Florida, and a storm surge watch in effect from Ocracoke Inlet, N.C., to Duck, N.C.

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Heavy rainfall and strong winds were spreading across western Cuba yesterday.

Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico, which has very warm water temperatures and favourable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall", said Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub. In a Monday afternoon update, forecasters said winds have increased to almost 80 miles per hour (129 kph) as the storm moves north at almost 9 miles per hour (14 kph). The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center, according to the weather center.

Most of the rain and wind will likely be on Friday and Saturday.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Navarre Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay. The hurricane warning stretches from Pensacola, Fla., eastward to near Cedar Key in the bend of Florida Panhandle.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the Panhandle and Big Bend areas on Sunday.

From the Florida Panhandle into Southern Georgia, the impending storm could bring 4 to 8 inches of rain, according to the NHC, with as much as 12 inches in certain areas.

But with the storm remaining well out to our west and it keeping forward speed our impacts will be limited.

Many are located in the coastal town of Port St. Joe, the county's largest municipality, lying directly in the hurricane's projected path, she said.

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