The Hurricane Center also is watching three other systems far out in the eastern Atlantic but none are forecast to impact eastern coast of the United States.
Garcia said the tropical storm has the potential to produce gusty winds, heavy rain and flooding in South Florida, as well as possible isolated tornadoes through mid-week.
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Besides the hurricane watch, a tropical storm watch is in effect from the Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, as well as from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Those tropical storm effects will extend inland across southern Georgia and into SC - the storm will pick up speed as it's carried at the tail end of a cold front. National Hurricane Center forecast revision.
The National Hurricane Center's forecast data has been updated to reflect a landfall maximum intensity of 105 knots, so around 120 miles per hour, hence the forecasters that said conditions are conducive for intensification appear to be being proved right, as the warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and favourable wind shear conditions enable hurricane Michael to reach Category 2, 3 or even higher before landfall.
Michael is forecast to eventually make landfall as a hurricane Wednesday afternoon along the Florida panhandle.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within the next 36 hours. Hurricane force winds extend 45 miles outside the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outwards 175 miles.
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It's expected to move over the Yucatan Channel and then crosses the Gulf of Mexico, nearing the Florida Panhandle coast by Wednesday. The storm is expected to become a hurricane by the time it makes landfall Wednesday and could become a Category 2 storm, with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
The depression is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm late Sunday, possibly reaching category 1 hurricane status by the time it approaches the Florida panhandle Tuesday night. A separate area of persistent very heavy rainfall is expected along the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico, including western Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the state of Chiapas in Mexico.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum was scheduled to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but said he is suspending his campaign activity to address preparations for the storm, his campaign said.
"There is an increasing risk of risky storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts over portions of the northern Gulf Coast by mid-week, although it is too soon to specify the exact location and magnitude of these impacts", the forecast discussion said.
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