Michael now a Category 1 hurricane

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Early Monday afternoon, Michael was centered about 20 miles off the western tip of Cuba and about 600 miles south of Tallahassee, Florida.

Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay, activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland.

Hurricane Michael is on a path to the Florida Panhandle as a strong storm.

Officials believe that "by the time it makes landfall midweek", Michael could increase its power to hit wind speeds of 96-110 miles per hour, which would designate it as a category 2 storm.

Energy companies halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated staff from 10 platforms on Monday as Michael was forecast to become the strongest of three named storms to affect the U.S. Gulf of Mexico this year.

"And should there be any disruption in the system, it will be in place to activate immediately so that we don't have disruption, particularly amongst our highest critical need area, the hospital", said Gillum. Expect widely scattered showers moving onshore through our Monday with the downpours becoming more frequent through Tuesday. A warning indicates tropical storm conditions are expected, in this case, within 24 hours. He also waived tolls in a move to help coastal dwellers leave. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

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Florida State University announced it will close from Tuesday through Friday this week. There is also potential for significant storm impacts around midweek, please stay tuned to NHC for updates related to the protection of life and property. Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches have been issued for parts of the Florida Gulf Coast, please monitor the National Hurricane Center and your local National Weather Service office for details as it relates to the protection of life and property.

As of Monday morning, the storm passed close to the Yucatan Peninsula with maximum sustained winds around 75 miles per hour.

Latest satellite imagery showing Hurricane Michael moving into the SE Gulf of Mexico.

Almost a month after Hurricane Florence created unprecedented flooding, the Grand Strand is in another storm's path.

Rainfall is also set to be a serious danger over the coming days, as Cuba has already received four to eight inches, and most of Florida and Carolina is in for at least four to eight inches. "It is critical that you take care of yourself, your family, and your business as Hurricane Michael approaches FL", Scott wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off southwest Florida that began last October after Hurricane Irma swept up the state has killed massive amounts of marine life and caused respiratory irritations in people. Pfaff said this risk is higher if the storm moves west of the area.

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