The Latest on Tropical Storm Michael (all times local) UPDATED 11 a.m.:
Michael has become a hurricane as the storm gets ready to move into the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say Michael will move over very warm waters and could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 111 mph by Tuesday night.
Michael was lashing western Cuba late Monday morning with heavy rains and strong winds.
According to the hurricane center, Michael’s top sustained winds were around 75 mph. The storm was moving north around 7 mph.
The storm was centered about 50 miles off the western tip of Cuba, and about 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
Michael is forecast to make landfall by midweek in Florida’s Panhandle or Big Bend.
The director of the National Hurricane Center says Florida’s Big Bend could see up to 11 feet of storm surge after Tropical Storm Michael strengthens into a hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Ken Graham says the storm’s large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce a lot of flooding, and the shape of this stretch of coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to storm surge.
Water being forced on shore by the storm could get trapped in estuaries and rivers and pushed inland.
According to the forecast, parts of the Tampa Bay area and the western Florida Panhandle also could see up to 4 feet of storm surge.