Michael now a Category 1 hurricane

CNN reports that such language is warranted, for Michael is now "slashing Cuba" and is expected to reach Category 3 status (with sustained winds from 111-129 mph) by Wednesday when it reaches the USA mainland. The hurricane is moving north at 7 miles per hour with max sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on October 7 declared a state of emergency for several areas in Florida and "also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas".

Currently, Michael poses no risk to Florida's Space Coast.

A hurricane watch is now posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida, including Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee.

After making landfall, Michael will move quickly inland, and this is where things get interesting for central Georgia. The risk of life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall, and unsafe winds is increasing for the northeastern Gulf Coast.

The storm was expected to bring up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain with storm surges up to 12 feet (3.7 meters), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

A Storm Surge Watch and Tropical Storm Watch have both been issued for coastal areas including Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.

Michael is forecasted to continue to move northward near the western tip of Cuba this afternoon and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by tonight.

"We're cleaning all of the storm drains", said Michael Cullum, director of St. Augustine's Public Works Department.

"Let's all stay safe and watch this storm closely".

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also declared a state of emergency in her state, "in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds and heavy rain associated with Hurricane Michael".

Energy companies halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated staff from 10 platforms on Monday as Michael was forecast to become the strongest of three named storms to affect the U.S. Gulf of Mexico this year.

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm. By the time it hits the northeastern Gulf Coast this week, Michael could be a major hurricane.

"So, whatever we're doing, we've got to do something different", said the governor in 2016. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain.

The NWS release said there is considerable uncertainty regarding the track, intensity, and timing of Michael, but confidence is increasing that it will directly impact the southeast Georgia and southeast SC area.

A satellite image of Tropical Storm Michael taken Monday.

Tropical storm force winds are possible as early as Wednesday.