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

Scott said Sunday that he had issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

"Satellite wind data indicate that the depression has strengthened the Tropical Storm Michael, NHC forecaster Daniel Brown said in a posting".

The big picture on where the storm is expected to go has also shifted some since Saturday afternoon, when tracking showed Michael crossing the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama as a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Michael became the 13th named storm of the season in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday afternoon. "Strengthening is forecast during the next several days, and Michael could become a hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday", according to the NHC. This area is expected to face the full range of hurricane hazards as early as Tuesday, which include torrential rain, damaging winds, coastal flooding from rising ocean waters or storm surge and tornadoes.

The storm, which was 190 miles south-southwest of the western edge of Cuba as of 5 p.m. Sunday, is moving north-northeast at 3 mph, towards the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place".

The area of low pressure is centered just east of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 120 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico this evening.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth. The center of the storm is then expected to move across Georgia as a tropical storm, before moving across the Carolinas and southeast Virginia before going back out to sea by next weekend.

Still too early to specify potential rainfall amounts, timing of tropical storm force winds or threat for severe weather as outer rain bands move through our region on Wednesday and Thursday.


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