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A hurricane warning has been issued for parts of the Gulf Coast of Florida as Hurricane Michael is expected to become a “major hurricane” by Tuesday or Tuesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

“Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so,” the NHC said Monday.

Hurricane Michael is currently tracking northwest at 12 mph., but will tilt southeast towards the of Gulf Mexico by Monday night. The center of the storm is expected to head inland towards the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area by Wednesday. The hurricane is currently 60 miles off the western tip of Cuba and maximum sustained wind gusts have grown to almost 85 mph, the NHC said.

Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds are forecast, and a storm surge warning has also been issued for the northeastern Gulf Coast and extended to the Alabama-Florida border. The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area stretching into Georgia and South Carolina could see four to eight inches of rain, with some areas as high as 12 inches. Storm surges can be life-threatening, and a warning usually means rising water could flood inland within 48 hours, according to the NHC.

Swells are already expected to start impacting eastern and northern parts of the Gulf of Mexico in the next or so and are likely to cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

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