Tropical Storm Michael Could Turn Into 'Devastating' Hurricane Before It Hits Florida

Forecasts show Hurricane Michael will likely travel north after making landfall on the Gulf Coast then turn east potentially hitting the Hampton Roads region

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

It would impact 35 Florida counties - Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwanee, Lafayette, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker Counties.

A storm surge watch was in effect from Navarre east and south to Anna Maria Island and the Tampa Bay area.

The City of North Myrtle Beach sent out a press release on Monday asking residents to monitor the storm as it gets closer to the area.

With Hurricane Michael churning Monday toward the northeast Gulf Coast, forecasts for Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region indicate tropical storm conditions are possible, including heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms.

The National Hurricane Center reports Michael is forecast to be a risky major hurricane when it reaches the Gulf Coast on Wednesday with life-threatening storm surge possible along portions of the state, including Manatee County, which could see up to a four-foot storm surge.

"If this storm hits near Panama City, the Tampa area will still see life threatening storm surge", Scott said.

"You can't survive storm surge", he said.

Another TT national, Ray Mohammed, said Florida has been through worse storms and was confident the state would ride out Michael.

The winds will start picking up in intensity on Tuesday morning. Needless to say, Michael should be taken seriously.

"We have never seen a storm like this in this part of our state", he said after the briefing. "Hopefully we will have no one hurt and no loss of life". Ann Beaver was among the three-quarters of city residents who lost power after that storm.

"We are trying to plan on a worst-case scenario", Morgan said.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum canceled campaign events in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the storm, his campaign said. Emergency management officials in Tallahassee and Leon County also began distributing sandbags to residents.

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday as it churned in the Caribbean.

1 P.M.: Advisory 8A has Hurricane Michael about 20 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba. Strengthening is forecast during the next several days, and Michael could become a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Rick Scott has issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties to rush preparations in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area, freeing up resources and activating 500 members of the Florida National Guard.

Also, Scott asked President Donald Trump to declare what is known as a "pre-landfall emergency" for the state.

Florida Panhandle and Big Bend into the Carolinas: 4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches.