Florida declares state of emergency in 26 counties as Hurricane Michael approaches

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Florida declares state of emergency in 26 counties as Hurricane Michael approaches

Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.

Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft observations from the evening forecast showed that the center of the storm has re-formed further northeast closer to the deepest convection, as Michael finishes ingesting a disturbance from the Eastern Pacific, noted WeatherTiger forecaster Ryan Truchelut, who partners with the USA TODAY Florida network to provide hurricane forecasts.

A major hurricane is a Category 5, 4 or 3 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

The "risk of unsafe storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts continues to increase", the National Hurricane Center warned Sunday. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years. Significant impacts are expected near landfall along the Florida Panhandle to the Big Bend.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Sunday upgraded Michael from a tropical depression to a named tropical storm, saying Michael had winds of up to 50 miles per hour (85 kph).

Forecasters have warned that Michael's strength could be "catastrophic" for communities in its path - anywhere from Pensacola on the western flank of the Florida Panhandle to Tampa.

Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

"Do not take a chance on storm surge", Scott said.

The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties.

It seems that after the storm makes a potential landfall, it will quickly race north and east.

The north Florida city of Tallahassee on Sunday opened two locations where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding.

At Governor Scott's direction, the State Emergency Operations Center will activate to a Level 2 this morning which means the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has activated, enhancing coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.

Cuban officials issued the warning for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Isle of Youth.

The NHC warned that both could trigger deadly flooding, and that residents within the hurricane warning zone should likewise "prepare for life-threatening winds". As the track stands right now, tropical storm force winds will be issue number 1.

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.

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