On its current path, Tropical Storm Michael is projected to move northward past the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico by late Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening.
Forecasts show the depression will likely reach tropical storm wind levels sometime in the next 24 hours and will reach hurricane strength at 7 a.m. Wednesday, shortly before making landfall, and then reducing again to tropical storm strength.
Rick Scott announced Sunday that he will issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency for counties in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend as the state continues to prepare and monitor the storm.
"Michael is expected to affect portions of the Florida Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity", the Hurricane Center warned.
The storm was located by 5 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon about 130 miles (205 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and moving to the north-northeast at about 3 mph (6 kph).
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is now en route to investigate Michael.
Newly named Tropical Storm Michael could strengthen to a hurricane as it heads to the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday. Maximum sustained winds are now at 35 miles per hour.
Lowndes County can expect "at least" 40 miles per hour winds, with gusts to hurricane strength, and three to five inches of rain when the storm moves through the county Wednesday, said Kelly Godsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Tallahassee, Fla., office.
Each line represents a computer model and its best "guess" as to where the center of the storm will go.
Hurricane hunters are investigating newly formed Tropical Storm Michael in the northwest Caribbean sea just off the Yucatan coast. The storm could become a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center. This set of storms comes after heavy rain fell in parts of the same region on Friday and Saturday.