Tropical Storm Michael rapidly gained strength while moving through the Gulf of Mexico Monday, growing into a category 1 hurricane as it makes its way toward the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center announced. Hurricane Michael is expected to strengthen into a category 3 by time it hits land. Here’s everything you need to know about the storm, its path, and how to stay safe.
How strong will Hurricane Michael get?
According to the National Hurricane Center, "Michael is forecast to be near or at major hurricane strength when it reaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday." The storm could become a category 3 hurricane before making landfall, according to The Weather Channel, with winds in excess of 100 mph.
Who is in Hurricane Michael’s path?
The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio and a hurricane watch for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River. It issued a tropical storm warning for Cuba's Isle of Youth and the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel, and a tropical storm watch for the Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay, and the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. A storm surge watch is in effect for Navarre, Florida to Anna Maria Island.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t taking any chances and has already declared a state of emergency for 26 counties.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous," Scott said at a press briefing. "This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared."
He added, "Everybody's got to get ready. Don't take a chance. We're going to get storm surge, we have wind, we have a chance of flooding, we have a significant chance of tornadoes."
How to prepare for Hurricane Michael:
The most important thing you can to do get prepared for a storm is to stay tuned to local radio and television news channels to stay up to date on the latest information. From there, make sure to heed any warnings and evacuate when told to do so.
Next, take care of your home and personal belongings by cleaning up your yard and storing any outdoor furniture that could become a projectile during high winds.
Close off all doors and windows by boarding them up and ensure your gutters are cleaned before a storm.
Prepare the interior of your home by stocking up on bottled water and nonperishable food items. Lastly, ensure all your important documents are stored in a safe place, or even on a hard drive so you can take them with you if you need to evacuate. Check out all of Travel + Leisure’s advice on how to prepare for a hurricane here.