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"This storm will be life-threatening and really risky".

In Cuba, it dropped more than 10 inches (27 centimeters) of rain in places, flooding fields, damaging roads, knocking out power and destroying some homes in the western province of Pinar del Rio. "Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes".

Michael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid fears it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida's northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal dwellers are boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the unsafe storm heading their way. Later in the day, its sustained winds topped 90 miles per hour, with stronger gusts. Although Hurricane Florence once appeared likely to strike with catastrophic winds, it ultimately made its landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour.

"Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night", the hurricane center said Monday. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles, the National Hurricane Center said. Far inland, from the Florida Panhandle into Georgia and the Carolinas, rainfall totals are predicted to be up to 8 inches, with a foot of rain possible in isolated areas.

A Hurricane warning was issue just before 5 p.m. Monday for the Florida-Alabama line to the Suwannee River.

A storm surge warning - meaning unsafe flooding could strike in the next 36 hours - is in effect for a long swath of Florida's coast, from the Okaloosa-Walton county line east of Pensacola to the Anclote River, just north of Tampa Bay.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, filled sandbags with residents and urged residents of the state capital city to finish up emergency preparations quickly. Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.

Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.

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"This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared".

Scott said emergency officials are "doing everything they can to get everybody ready".

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.

"This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge", he said.

The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. While it remains unclear where Hurricane Michael will hit, Wool said it would be more powerful than other storms that have damaged the eastern Panhandle and Big Bend. A warning for the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, was canceled late Monday. "Areas hit hard by Florence may face disruptions to ongoing cleanup efforts or renewed flooding depending on the track of the storm", AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Forecasters warned that Michael, now a Category 1 storm, could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.


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