Michael becomes a hurricane as it heads to U.S.

Fred Still unseasonably hot

The tropical storm is expected to swell into a Category 1 hurricane as soon as Monday night or early Tuesday as it rolls into the Gulf of Mexico, with winds of 70 miles per hour, as of 5 a.m. eastern time, forecasters said, just shy of being named a hurricane.

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael, lower right, churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle, Sunday, Oct. 7.

Tropical Storm Michael is in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to bring heavy winds, inches of rain and a chance of flash floods to parts of the Carolinas later this week, including the Charlotte area, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"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.

It is expected that Michael, now centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, will dump four to eight inches of rain, with totals reaching more than 12 inches in isolated areas, potentially causing "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge", said Scott, referring to two Florida cities about 600 kilometres apart by highway.

Hurricane watches have been posted from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida which is just to the northwest of Cedar Key on Florida's west coast.

Outer bands from Michael are expected produce as much as 4 inches of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma past year.

On Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued a storm surge watch from Navarre to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay.

The NHC forecasters said the storm has become better organized Monday morning, and the westerly wind shear that was supposed to curtail its strengthening hasn't had the desired effect.

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.

Spaghetti model for Hurricane Michael as of 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 8, 2018.

Michael became a tropical storm on Sunday with sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to make USA landfall on Wednesday. Tropical storm winds extended out 280 kilometres from the storm's centre.

Rainfall totals up to 12 inches are possible in the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia, which will likely lead to areas of flooding. Swells are expected to begin affecting the coast of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico during the next day or so.

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