TS Michael Almost A Hurricane 5 AM Monday

Miami, Fla. (970 WFLA)-At 5:00 AM,the center of Tropical Storm Michael was located by an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 20.6 North, longitude 85.5 West.  About 90 miles east of Cozumel Mexico, about 100 miles  south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba.

Michael is moving toward the north near 7 mph.  A northward 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 move northward across the Yucatan Channel later today, and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico this evening through Wednesday.  

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.

Data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph with higher gusts.  Additional strengthening is forecast, and Michael is expected to become a hurricane later today.  Michael is forecast to be near or at major hurricane strength when it reaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from the center.The minimum central pressure based on aircraft data is 983 mb (29.03 inches).

A Storm Surge Watch has been issued from Navarre Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River Florida. 

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay.  

A Tropical Storm Watch has also been issued from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

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