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Florida Declares State of Emergency for Michael as Tropical Storm Expected to Become Hurricane-1
Tropical Storm Michael, expected to hit Florida as a hurricane midweek, prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency late Oct. 7. Scott issued an executive order declaring the emergency in 26 counties. "By declaring this state of emergency, Governor Scott is ensuring that state and local government has ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this storm," the governor's office said in a statement, noting that part of the preparation was directing the National Guard to activate 500 National Guardsmen to help with planning and logistics. In addition, 5,500 National Guardsmen are available for deployment if needed. “Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane or tropical storm can be,” Scott said in a statement, noting residents should be ready to evacuate if necessary. While currently a tropical storm, Michael is expected to become a hurricane before it hits Florida, forecasters said, with winds already reaching up to 70 miles per hour on Monday morning. The latest model, released by the National Hurricane Center on Oct. 8, shows Michael moving towards Florida's Gulf Coast and southern Alabama with an estimated landfall late Wednesday, Oct. 10. "Michael is forecast to be a hurricane, and possibly a major hurricane," when it hits land midweek, the center stated. "Some areas along the Florida Gulf Coast are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity." A number of Florida cities were preparing, including Tallahassee, where officials on Sunday opened two locations where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding. "While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees," Tallahassee officials said in a statement. Cuba and Mexico The hurricane was expected to inflict damage to western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on Sunday night and into Monday before moving toward the United States. The hurricane center warned that the storm could produce a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. An Air Force hurricane hunter airplane was sent into the storm to investigate, the hurricane center said. Michael is the 13th named storm of the 2018 hurricane season, according to hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. The Associated Press contributed to this report.