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article imageTropical Storm Michael forms: Florida declares state of emergency

By Karen Graham     Oct 7, 2018 in Environment
Tropical Depression 14, off the shore of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, has quickly gained strength and is now Tropical Storm Michael. The latest forecast suggests the storm could make landfall as a Category 2 Hurricane by mid-week.
According to the NHC, as of 7:00 p.m. EDT on October 7, Tropical Storm Michael is about 105 miles (170 kilometers) east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and 140 miles (230 kilometers) south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba.
Michael is moving toward the north at 5.0 mph (7.0 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and a minimum central pressure that has fallen to 997 MB or 29.44 inches. A general northward motion with some increase in forward speed is expected over the next few days.
On the forecast track, on Monday, the storm will move over the Yucatan Channel and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the United States northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.
Before reaching the Gulf of Mexico, the storm will bring a threat of flooding rain around the northwestern Caribbean. After landfall, the flood danger will spread over more of the southeastern United States and potentially into the mid-Atlantic and New England later this week.
AccuWeather is reporting that localized downpours may also target the rest of Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola into at least Monday. This includes in Haiti where recovery efforts from a deadly earthquake are ongoing.
Additionally, moisture streaming in from the Pacific toward Michael has the potential to trigger widespread flooding and mudslides in El Salvador and southern Guatemala through early this week.
State of Emergency issued for North Florida
According to this latest update, Michael is expected to become a hurricane late Monday night or Tuesday. In the meantime, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas.
By declaring this state of emergency, Gov. Scott said he is ensuring that state and local government has ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm. Governor Scott also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas.
The Florida Highway Patrol is making preparations for 342 state troopers to activate to 12-hour shifts. The activation would provide 24-hour enhanced coverage across Florida’s Big Bend and Panhandle.
Tropical Storm Michael is already a fairly good-sized storm. Reconnaissance aircraft indicate that tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 170 miles (275 kilometers) to the northeast and southeast of the center.
Michael is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 7 inches over western Cuba and 2 to 4 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize through Tuesday. Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches are possible in western Cuba. And with the rain and wind expected to get worse as the storm moves closer, it will be difficult to make outside preparations.
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