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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tropical Depression Fourteen formed overnight and after continuing to gain strength, has been named Tropical Storm Michael.
It could bring heavy rain and moisture to the Gulf Coast in the coming days.
As of 5 p.m. the storm was located about 305 miles south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba.
Michael is moving toward the north-northeast near 3 mph.
A northward motion with some increase in forward speed is expected over the next few days.
On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move over the Yucatan Channel on Monday, and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.
Data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph with higher gusts.
Additional strengthening is expected during the next few days, and Michael is forecast to become a hurricane Monday night or Tuesday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles primarily to the east of the center.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in the Florida panhandle to help mobilize state and local emergency management.
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* The Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth
* The coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the coast within the warning area by this evening or tonight, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
RAINFALL: Total rain accumulations of 3 to 7 inches are expected over western Cuba and 2 to 4 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and northern Honduras through Tuesday.
Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches are possible in western Cuba.
A separate area of persistent very heavy rainfall is expected along the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico, including western Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the state of Chiapas in Mexico.
In many of these areas this rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods.
Elsewhere, outer rain bands from the depression are expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches across the Florida Keys through Monday.