New Hurricane Prompts Florida and Alabama to Declare States of Emergency

October 9, 2018 AT 10:20 AM

By Associated Press

A tropical weather system rapidly strengthened Monday into Hurricane Michael Monday and is likely to keep growing stronger ahead of an expected strike on Florida's Panhandle by midweek, forecasters said. Florida and Alabama have both declared states of emergency. Michael was likely to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane sometime Tuesday, meteorologist Danielle Niles of CBS Boston reports.

Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane, the term for storms reaching Category 3 and higher, with winds topping 111 mph by Tuesday night before an expected strike Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico, which has very warm water temperatures and favorable atmospheric conditions.

Because of that, "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. Michael's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf Coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.

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