[Ed. – Developing]
Hurricane watches have been posted on the northeast Florida Gulf Coast ahead of a strengthening Tropical Storm Michael in the northwest Caribbean. Michael could be near major hurricane strength as it approaches the Florida coastline by Wednesday with dangerous storm surge flooding, destructive winds and heavy rainfall.
Michael is currently centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, and is moving northward.
Outer rainbands from Michael are already soaking the Florida Keys, and rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are likely there through Tuesday.
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Michael rapidly intensified from Sunday 5 a.m. EDT to Monday 5 a.m. EDT when its winds increased from 35 mph to 70 mph in that 24 hour period.
A hurricane watch is now posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida. This includes Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee. Hurricane watches are issued 48 hours before the arrival of tropical-storm-force winds which is when outside preparations become dangerous.