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Tropical storm likely to form, roll toward US Gulf coast

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Forecasters: Caribbean storm could become hurricane

Tropical Storm Michael formed Sunday morning in the Caribbean Sea and is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane over the next couple of days, the National Hurricane Center said. "Storm preparations should be rushed to completion today and Tuesday".

"If this storm hits Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge", Scott said. Governor Scott also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas.

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post. It was expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Michael on Sunday, and could become Hurricane Michael on Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Either way, we'll likely experience a quick period of heavy rain somewhere along the Carolinas and perhaps some wind gusts between 40 to 45 miles per hour from late Wednesday into Thursday and perhaps even into Friday morning before Michael quickly moves off the North Carolina coast.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

The Weather Channel has noted that forecast guidance is unanimous that Michael will trek north through the Gulf of Mexico and likely pose a threat to parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast by midweek.

"While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees", Tallahassee officials said in a statement.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 election, said on Sunday he was cancelling his campaign events and returning to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations.

Farther west along Florida's Panhandle, the city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place". Michael is now about 90 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico.

After hitting Florida, the storm is then forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the western tip of Cuba, while a tropical storm watch has been called for the resort region of the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

The storm could also bring lethal flash floods to Chiapas, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, western Nicaragua and other parts of the Mexican and Central American Pacific coasts. Beginning Monday and continuing through Thursday, the chance of showers jumps up to 60 to 70 percent.

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