Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say Michael will move over very warm waters and could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph) by Tuesday night.
Tropical storm watches are in effect from from the Alabama/Florida line to the Alabama/Mississippi line and from the Suwannee River to Tampa Bay.
Hurricane Michael was about 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and moving north at 7 mph, as of an 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical storm Michael is expected to intensify as it travels northwards in the Caribbean sea and it may have a major effect on U.S. oil production and transportation by mid-week.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm with its 11 a.m. advisory Tuesday, recording maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. "With Floridians now in the path of Tropical Storm Michael, it's time for all of us to come together, to support those who might be affected by the looming storm".
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said Sunday, warning of the potentially perilous storm surges the storm could bring. The situation is a good example of how volatile a hurricane can be for a politician and illustrates the baggage that already exists as Michael approaches. Rough surf as well as gusty winds and heavy rain will occur along the Gulf Coast as early as Tuesday. As Micheal moves north the storm will continue to strengthen, and it could become a major Category 3 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico by midweek.
Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm. "We're going to get storm surge, we have wind, we have a chance of flooding, we have a significant chance of tornadoes".
In light of the storm, Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum suspended his campaign activity to address preparations for the storm, according to CNN. The forecast projects Tallahassee, where Gillum is mayor, will be directly hit.
In addition, "heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of the Carolinas through Thursday", the Hurricane Center warned.
Further strengthening is forecast as it moves northward across the Gulf of Mexico.