Michael becomes a hurricane as it heads to U.S.

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Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott warned at a press briefing, according to local station News Channel 5.

It is expected that Michael, now centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, will dump four to eight inches of rain, with totals reaching more than 12 inches in isolated areas, potentially causing "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"If this storm hits Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge", said Scott, who also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of the storm. It is expected to become a Category 3 major hurricane by the time it makes landfall somewhere in northwest Florida.

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael.

The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend into southern Georgia are planning on seeing at least 4 to 8 inches of rain, with up to a foot of in some parts.

"Everybody's got to get ready". It will bring risky storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain.

The storm moved north on a path between Cozumel in southeastern Mexico and the western tip of Cuba, the Miami-based hurricane center said. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.

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A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay, and the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida panhandle, and a tropical storm watch is in effect much of Florida's west coast, reports the center.

The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties.

Michael's maximum sustained winds had reached 70 miles per hour, it said.

Less than 24 hours later, on Monday, Micheal became a Category 1 hurricane.

Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state.

In light of the storm, Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum suspended his campaign activity to address preparations for the storm, according to CNN.

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