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Where is Hurricane Michael now, how can I track it and why has a state of emergency been declared in Florida?

Here's what you need to know about the 13th named storm of the hurricane season and what preparations are being made ahead of its arrival.

Where is Hurricane Michael now?

Michael is currently located about 100 miles south west of the western tip of Cuba, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

The tropical storm is expected to swell into a Category 1 hurricane as soon as Monday night or early Tuesday as it rolls into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

It is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain – and as much as 12 inches in some areas – on western Cuba before it hits the United States.

Michael is now on track to hit the Florida Panhandle midweek as a Category 2 hurricane.

After hitting Florida, the storm is then forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

That hurricane killed at least 50 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

How can I track it?

The National Hurricane Center provides regular updates on tropical storms and hurricanes.

A part of the United States Weather Service, the NHC responsible for tracking and predicting weather systems in the northeast Pacific and northern Atlantic oceans.

Why has a state of emergency been declared in Florida?

A Category 2 hurricane comes with speeds of between 96-110mph.

According the NHC “extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage” during a Category 2 hurricane.

It also says “near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks”.

Outer bands from Michael are expected produce as much as 4 inches of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma last year.

In response to the threat, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties and has put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous," said the governor.

"This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared."

 

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