Michael became a tropical storm on Sunday with sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour.
Michael is forecast to make landfall by midweek in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.
Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf, which has very warm water temperatures and favorable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall", Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory.
Meanwhile, Scott, the Republican nominee for US Senate, will be leaving the campaign trail for the "next few days" to address storm preparations, a campaign spokesperson told CNN.
Where is the hurricane now?
It was moving north around 7 miles per hour (11 kph).
The storm is projected to hit somewhere in Florida on Wednesday or early Thursday.
Forecasters expect the tropical storm to become a hurricane on Monday.
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.
By the time it hits the northeastern Gulf Coast this week, Michael could be a major hurricane.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties to rush preparations in the Panhandle and the Big Bend area, freeing up resources and activating 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of Tropical Storm Michael.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Navarre, Florida, to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay.
Not only is the coastline in danger, so are inland areas of Florida, Alabama and Georgia, forecasters warn.
"Let's all stay safe and watch this storm closely".
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