Michael upgraded to hurricane, heads toward Florida

Infrared satellite loop with lightning flashes overlaid

"In addition, Michael is expected to affect portions of the Florida Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity". The bottom line is that tropical storm force winds a very possible, meaning winds ranging from 40 miles per hour to as high as 70 plus.

The storm could strengthen into a hurricane by tonight or Tuesday as its center moves over the Yucatan Channel, crosses the Gulf of Mexico and nears the Florida Panhandle coast sometime Wednesday.

Beaufort County can expect 2-3 inches of rain through Thursday night, according to according to the National Weather Service in Charleston. This may lead to life-threatening flash floods.

The storm at 8 a.m. was travelling with 35-mph winds.

As of the 5 a.m. Monday advisory, up to 10 inches of rain is expected near where the storm makes landfall and into southeast Georgia.

The storm was centred about 190 miles (306 kilometres) south of Cozumel, Mexico, late Saturday and was heading north at 7 mph (11 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph (45 kph). With a movement of 3 mph, it's nearly loitering 100 miles east northeast of Chetumal, Mexico, and 240 miles south southwest of Cuba's western tip.

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The system could become a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

By declaring this state of emergency, Gov. Scott is ensuring that state and local government has ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm.

Scott encouraged residents in the path of the storm to prepare now, and directed everyone to visit FloridaDisaster.org to find information on emergency preparedness, shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes.

A new tropical storm could become a Category 2 hurricane with 100 miles per hour winds later in the day Monday as it closes in on Florida. Hurricane Hunters are collecting data on the storm, and that data will be fed into our forecast models.

Forecasters advised residents along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast to monitor the storms progress. The storm has increased from winds of 35 miles per hour on Sunday to 75 miles per hour by late Monday morning.

"The moderate westerly shear that is affecting the depression is forecast to gradually decrease over the next day or two as an upper-level trough over the Gulf of Mexico moves westward and weakens", the NHC said.

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