Michael expected to gain hurricane strength nearing Florida

Tropical Storm Michael forms expected to become hurricane next week

"Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane of tropical storm can be", Scott said in a statement.

"With the National Hurricane Center forecasting Tropical Depression 14 to strengthen and impact Floridas Panhandle as a hurricane, families need to get prepared", the governor said in a release.

Meteorologists say they will be closely watching hurricane Michael over the coming 12 hours, as how the storm behaves and intensifies will provide a better picture of its potential strength at landfall in the middle of this week. It is moving north at a speed of around 7 m.p.h. Leslie was moving east-southeast at 13 miles per hour.

Once it reaches land, Michael is forecast to weaken into a tropical storm when it passes through the East Coast, including the New York City area, by Friday morning.

With Scott running for U.S. Senate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum running for governor, the threat of the storm quickly affected this fall's elections.

The storm could cause rip tides and other unsafe surf conditions along Florida's West Coast and Panhandle as early as Monday, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said. It could become a tropical storm by Sunday night. Additional strengthening is expected overnight, and is forecast to become a category 4 storm before it makes landfall in the Florida panhandle.

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Michael might bring strong winds and possible power outages to the area, according to St. Johns County Emergency Management.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 election, said on Sunday he was cancelling his campaign events and returning to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations.

Chatham, and the surrounding counties, are in the National Weather Service Charleston's 5-day error cone with southeast Georgia having a 40-50 percent of feeling topical storm force winds beginning around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Satellite wind data indicated the depression had strengthened Sunday morning with maximum winds of 40 miles per hour.

A hurricane watch is in effect along the Alabama-Florida border down to the Suwanee River.

Landfall is imminent on the Florida Panhandle coast Wednesday afternoon. Heavy rains and storm surge will also be a concern. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life- threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

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