Michael reaches hurricane strength as it churns toward Florida

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"Michael is forecast to be near or at major hurricane strength when it reaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday", said a 7 a.m. update from the center.

A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or dangerous.A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.Interests elsewhere across the southeastern United States should monitor the progress of Michael.For storm information specific to your area in the United States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael is now a hurricane and will continue to strengthen as it approaches US.

"Families should take the opportunity TODAY to make sure they have three days of food and water, as well as all needed medications", Scott wrote on Twitter on Monday.

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The NHC says that the storm could produce a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Tropical Storm Watches and Hurricane Watches have been issued for portions of the Gulf Coast from Alabama-Mississippi border to Tampa Bay, Florida.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Alabama Gulf coast, while a Hurricane Watch has been issued for the northwestern coast of Florida.

Michael is the 13th named storm of the 2018 hurricane season.

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The storm moved north on a path between Cozumel in southeastern Mexico and the western tip of Cuba, the Miami-based hurricane center said. It was moving north around 7 miles per hour (11 kph). Tropical storm watches extend farther south through the Tampa Bay area to Anna Maria Island and, to the west, along the Alabama coast.

Areas to the east of where the storm center tracks will experience the greatest storm surge, and flooding will be worst around the high tides.

The storm is expected to make United States landfall on Wednesday. It has also been warned that isolated tornadoes could develop in the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations. Tropical storm winds extended out 280 kilometres from the storm's centre.

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The storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, and slow strengthening is forecast in the next few days.