The National Hurricane Center's 1 a.m. update reports the storm continues to have maximum sustained winds of 60 m.p.h. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach area remains on the western edge of the storm's expected path.

UPDATE: 1:42 a.m.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 1 a.m. advisory, Tropical Storm Michael is moving north at 5 miles per hour. The storm's maximum sustained winds are at 60 m.p.h.

The storm is expected to make landfall Wednesday as a hurricane. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach area is included in the western edge of the storm's projected path.

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY

Late-season Tropical Storm Michael swirled into life on Sunday and began a slow march toward what forecasters predicted would be a Northwest Florida landfall, possibly as a hurricane.

The storm, born from a tropical depression that formed in the northwest Caribbean Sea early Sunday, was expected to enter the southern Gulf of Mexico on Monday and build up its winds to hurricane force by landfall.

In its 7 p.m. advisory the National Hurricane Center said Michael was located about 105 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, or about 230 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba in the northwest Caribbean Sea. Winds were estimated to be 60 mph and the barometric pressure was at 997 millibars.

The storm was moving toward the north at about 5 miles per hour, the advisory said. 

The Florida Panhandle remained in the so-called "cone of uncertainty" and officials in Walton County called an emergency meeting of the Board of County Commissioners for late Monday morning to discuss issuing a local state of emergency.

"We're expecting impact," said Louis Svehla, public information officer for the county. "We don't know exactly what it's going  to be. It could come in as a tropical story, a Category 1 or better.

"It could change course altogether," he added. "At this point, we don't know."

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth in Cuba, and the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche. The Hurricane Center’s statement said interests along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of Michael.

“We’re monitoring it closely,” said Christopher Saul, public spokesman for Okaloosa County. As of Sunday afternoon the emergency operations center had not been activated.

Saul recommended that residents should visit the county’s website and download a copy of its Hurricane Guide, which can be found at www.co.okaloosa.fl.us/sites/default/files/users/PSUser/Hurricane%20Guide%20071618.pdf

Forecasters said Michael was strengthening despite the windshear that was expected to decrease over the next few days.

A rip current statement was in effect for the area until Oct. 11 at 5 a.m., along with a high surf statement. The Mobile office of the National Weather Service said there was a high risk for rip currents, and that wave heights would gradually increase through Wednesday, possibly reaching 10 feet.