According to the 5 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael was close to becoming a hurricane. The center of the storm is then expected to move across Georgia as a tropical storm, before moving across the Carolinas and southeast Virginia before going back out to sea by next weekend.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River. This area is expected to face the full range of hurricane hazards as early as Tuesday, which include torrential rain, damaging winds, coastal flooding from rising ocean waters or storm surge and tornadoes.
WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Monday that the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. update on Monday has the storm making landfall as a Category 1 or Category 2 storm before moving up through the southeastern U.S.
Image: Forecast Track for Hurricane Michael.
The exact track and timing of Michael still remains uncertain, so exact impacts will change as the forecast becomes more clear.
The latest forecast cone now gets Michael to hurricane status by Wednesday, which remains the most likely date for landfall.
The depression was moving north at 3 miles per hour.
After reaching land, Michael is expected to travel northeast at hurricane strength as it passes over Georgia.
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The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Michael is packing top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and is about 105 miles (170 kilometers) east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
Several watches and warnings are now in effect.
The storm could cause rip tides and other unsafe surf conditions along Florida's West Coast and Panhandle as early as Monday, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said.
Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. "Don't take a chance".
The Hurricane Center predicts that Michael will reach hurricane intensity with 80 miles per hour (or Category 1) winds by Tuesday, increasing to 100 miles per hour by Wednesday (or Category 2) around the time of landfall. And an area of disturbed weather south of the Cabo Verde Islands has a 20-30 percent chance of becoming a storm over the next five days.
"Michael is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days", it said.