Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday that he will declare a state of emergency as the strengthening Tropical Storm Michael looks set to bear down on the state’s western coast.
“Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane or tropical storm can be,” Governor Scott tweeted. “As we continue to monitor this storm’s path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe.”
With satellite data showing maximum sustained wind speeds of 40 mph, the National Hurricane Center upgraded what had formerly been called Tropical Depression 14 to tropical storm status early Sunday afternoon.
The storm is expected to strengthen to hurricane status before making a predicted landfall in the western Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Governor Scott has said that he plans to declare a state of emergency in counties in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.
The storm was reported to be about 90 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico, midday Sunday. A tropical storm warning has been declared for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth in Cuba as well as along the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche
“If any Florida family doesn’t have an emergency preparedness plan, now is the time to act,” the governor said in a press release. “Floridians also know just how quickly the path of a storm can change and that’s why we all must be vigilant and get prepared today.”