Tropical Storm Michael Expected to Strengthen to a Hurricane Before Striking Gulf Coast, Warnings Posted for Cancun

Oct 7, 2018

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The tropics have been notably quiet since the incredibly destructive Hurricane Florence. But, I’m sorry to say that’s coming to an end. Tropical Storm Michael just formed off of the Yucatan Peninsula and Tropical Storm Warnings have already been posted for the Mexican coast between Tulum and Cabo Catoche — including Cancun — and parts of Cuba.

While Mexico and Cuba are likely to get gusty winds and rain, the real threat from this storm looks to be on the US Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to pass between Mexico and Cuba on its way into the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Wednesday morning. The current forecast calls for the Category 1 hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle late Wednesday.

Predicting hurricane paths and intensities are always tricky business, but this is particularly true when a storm is just forming. Small changes to wind currents or prevailing weather can have a large impact on how strong a storm will become and where it will end up making landfall.

So, at this point, the National Hurricane Center’s key takeaway is for the Gulf Coast to monitor the progress of the storm:

There is an increasing risk of dangerous 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. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of this system.

With that said, the current wind speed probabilities shows where the storm is most likely to affect the southwest through Friday:

As this storm is just forming, there are no airline waivers at this time. However, we might see some airline fee waivers for the Caribbean later this afternoon if conditions worsen for any particular airports. Airlines will likely wait until Monday or even Tuesday to release waivers for the Gulf Coast, as they monitor which airports are most likely to be impacted.

Protect Your Travels

These storms are yet another reminder of the importance of booking trips with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. When I got stuck in Japan for four extra days due to a typhoon, I was very grateful for the Citi Prestige’s trip delay protection, which reimbursed $1,000 of our expenses.

Although the Citi Prestige used to be my go-to for booking flights, a recent devaluation to the card’s travel benefits knocked it out of its top spot. Currently, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book my flights going forward. Other top choices are the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardCiti / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and the Citi Premier Card.

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