The National Hurricane Center says the storm is centered about 60 miles off the western tip of Cuba, and about 485 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. Steady to rapid strengthening is expected for the next day or so.
"Michael is forecast to be near or at major hurricane strength when it reaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday".
With Hurricane Michael churning Monday toward the northeast Gulf Coast, forecasts for Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region indicate tropical storm conditions are possible, including heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms.
"I haven't made up my mind yet, but I know some of my staff are going", said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly, a restaurant a block from the beach in Panama City, Bay County, an area where the hurricane is expected to come ashore.
A Hurricane Watch was issued for the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River. The storm surge watch stretches from Anna Maria Island to Navarre, while the tropical storm watch stretches to the Suwanee River.
A state of emergency was issued in Alabama on Monday as "dangerous" Hurricane Michael continues to barrel toward the US, with the potential to hit the Florida Panhandle mid-week.
Scott has also extended his state of emergency order to include Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, and Baker Counties.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several areas in Florida on October 7, and "also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas". We might also see some stronger storms that could bring isolated power outages.
In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.
Another TT national, Ray Mohammed, said Florida has been through worse storms and was confident the state would ride out Michael.
"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said. Scott is urging people along the Gulf Coast to finish their storm preparations Monday evening.
Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds. It was moving to the north at 7 miles per hour. "Areas hit hard by Florence may face disruptions to ongoing cleanup efforts or renewed flooding depending on the track of the storm", AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
Hurricane Michael would be the first major hurricane to hit the panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005, which made landfall near Pensacola, according to hurricane center data.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific, Hurricane Sergio was spinning about 1,300 miles southwest of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. "It is forecast to move very quickly and there would not be the rain like we had before".