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ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – Hurricane Michael is forecast to continue strengthening as it moves closer to Florida’s Panhandle.

At 11 p.m. the center of the storm was about 485 miles south of Panama City, Florida.

Michael is moving toward the north near 12 mph.

A northward to north-northwestward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected through Tuesday night, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday.

On the forecast track, the center of Michael will continue to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico tonight, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and Tuesday night.

The center of Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday.

Reports from the two reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 90 mph with higher gusts.

Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida to Anclote River Florida

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Anclote River Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including
Tampa Bay
* Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River Florida
* The Cuban province of Pinar del Rio

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border
* Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida
* The Cuban province of the Isle of Youth

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay
* Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Indian Pass FL to Cedar Key FL…8-12 ft

Cedar Key FL to Crystal River FL…6-8 ft

Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL to Indian Pass FL…5-8 ft

Crystal River FL to Anclote River FL…4-6 ft

Anclote River to Anna Maria Island FL including Tampa Bay…2-4 ft

Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL…2-4 ft

WIND:  Hurricane conditions will continue over portions of the far western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio through this evening.

Tropical storm conditions are expected across the remainder of the warning areas in Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula through tonight.

Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area along the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the tropical storm warning area by Tuesday night or early Wednesday, and are possible within the tropical storm watch area by that time.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Wednesday.

RAINFALL:  Michael is expected to produce the following rainfall amounts through Friday…

Western Cuba…4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches.

This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Florida Panhandle and Big Bend across Georgia into South Carolina…

4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. This rainfall could lead to life threatening flash floods.

Florida Peninsula, Florida Keys, North Carolina, portions of the Mid-Atlantic States, and the southern New England coast…2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods.

Yucatan Peninsula…1 to 2 inches.

SURF:  Swells generated by Michael are affecting the south coast of Cuba and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Swells are expected to begin affecting the coast of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico during the next day or so.

These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

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