"Michael is forecast to be a unsafe major hurricane when it reaches the northeastern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and life-threatening storm surge is possible along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast", the National Hurricane Center wrote Monday.
Locally, the Tampa Bay area could experience storm surge, thunderstorms as early as Monday night that could total 1-3 inches of rain with possible localized flooding and strong winds over the next few days. It was moving north around 7 miles per hour (11 kph).
The storm is about 120 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 70 miles west of Cuba.
Michael is forecast to make landfall by midweek in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend.
"A northward motion at a slightly faster forward speed is expected through Tuesday night, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday", the NHC said in its Monday morning advisory.
Tropical Storm Michael, the 13th named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, formed near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday. Hurricane watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche. It has also been warned that isolated tornadoes could develop in the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia. Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay * Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama borderA Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning.A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life- threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said Sunday after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center. As we have seen before, it can change direction and impact any part of our state", Scott tweeted Monday morning, adding, "EVERY FAMILY must be prepared.
Tampa Bay has about a 40 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds within the next five days.
Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations.