A hurricane center graphic showed the disturbance gaining storm-level winds of over 39 miles per hour on Monday and maintaining those speeds as it potentially hits the Florida coast east of Pensacola on Wednesday.
"With the National Hurricane Center forecasting Tropical Depression 14 (Tropical Storm Michael) to strengthen and impact Florida's Panhandle as a hurricane, families need to get prepared", said Governor Rick Scott.
The "risk of risky storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts continues to increase", the National Hurricane Center warned Sunday. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger than that, Wakulla County residents were urged to evacuate inland.
If it forms as anticipated, it could bring wet weather to South Florida and have a direct impact somewhere on the northern Gulf coast, including the Panhandle.
The next tropical storm name on the hurricane center's list is Michael.
Described by Scott as both "monstrous" and "massive", Michael could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour, according to current projections.
A news release from the governor's office said declaring a state of emergency ensures that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare for the storm.
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency in anticipation of damage from Hurricane Michael. It was also about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba. Michael will be squeezed between two strong weather features this week, a massive curve in jet stream winds called a trough to the west and an area of high pressure to the east.
A very active weather pattern will bring several rounds of heavy rain to the central USA over the next few days, which could lead to flash flooding, as well as severe weather in parts of the Plains, and even snow to the Northern Rockies and Plains. It will weaken into a tropical storm near the Carolinas and Virginia on its way back to the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said. A couple breweries in the city offered free filtered water to anyone bringing in jugs or other containers. This would be enough to cause some limited power outages and possibly a few downed trees Thursday. We will still have rain mid-week with moisture wrapping around Michael before it turns to the northeast.
The city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place".
On the Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan warned residents during a news conference Monday evening that if they stay, first responders won't be able to reach them during the storm or immediately after.