Forecasters say Hurricane Michael will strengthen into a major hurricane by late Tuesday as it continues on a dangerous path towards the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.
The National Hurricane Center says Michael is located about 730 kilometers south of the popular resort town of Panama City, carrying maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers an hour, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-level scale that measures a storm’s potential destructive power.
The storm has already caused damage in Mexico and Cuba.
Forecasters say the storm could dump as much as 30 centimeters of rain in western Cuba, triggering life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Hurricane Michael is expected to reach Florida’s Panhandle region sometime Wednesday, before slowly moving through the bottom half of the southeastern United States over the next day. The NHC has issued numerous hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings for Florida and its neighboring states of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and activated hundreds of National Guard troops to prepare for Hurricane Michael’s onslaught.