"Michael will bring risky storm surge to many areas, even those outside the path", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott at a news conference Monday. The National Hurricane Center is telling residents to take this threat seriously and to expect storm surge and heavy rainfall along with risky winds.
Michael was now a Category 1 hurricane but could become a Category 3 storm by Tuesday on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds of at least 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour).
But it rapidly intensified, and its top winds clocked in at 60 miles per hour by late Sunday evening. The governor warned people who live in the Big Bend and Florida Panhandle to prepare for flooding and high winds.
"It would be a tropical storm for us", Saavedra said.
Scott also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of the storm. Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches have been posted for the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend.
"We've seen this happen many times with storms, and they've just start to bring all that water with them", explained FOX 13's meteorologist Dave Osterberg, "and they've pushed that water in".
In addition to parts of western and northern Florida, a hurricane watch is also in effect for Mobile, Alabama and surrounding areas.
A low pressure system south of the Azores has only a 10 percent chance of development, the Hurricane Center said.
A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for coastal areas of Gulf County, according to a news release from the Port St. Joe Police Department.
That likely means tropical force winds and more rain for Eastern North Carolina late this week.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.
The storm is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain on Cuba, with some areas of the island nation seeing up to a foot of water. This will be enough for some flooding issues, especially in flood prone areas, but should not create major widespread flooding problems.