Tropical Storm Michael looms over Gulf of Mexico after upgrading from tropical depression

Oct 7 (Reuters) - A tropical depression became Tropical Storm Michael on Sunday and may become a hurricane by midweek, potentially bringing storm surges and heavy rainfall to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The storm was about 225 miles (365km) southwest of the western tip of Cuba at 2 p.m. eastern time (18:00 GMT), with sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km), the National Weather Service said.

The system is set to bring heavy rain and flash flooding to areas of Central America, western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula as early as Sunday night. Michael could become a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday, the NHC said in a Sunday afternoon advisory.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth and the eastern coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel.

Winds were forecast to drop in intensity as the system tracks northeast over Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, reaching North Carolina by Thursday.

SEE ALSO: Pets, animals fight through Hurricane Florence

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Pets, animals fight through Hurricane Florence
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Pets, animals fight through Hurricane Florence
A cat clings to the side of a trailer amidst flood waters before it was saved as the Northeast Cape Fear River breaks its banks in the aftermath Hurricane Florence in Burgaw, North Carolina, U.S., September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
EAST FAYETTEVILLE, NC SEP 18: Jasmine does the dog paddle as she was out in the parking lot at an apartment complex with her owner Shianna Locklear. Locklear ventured into the flooded area to check on her flooded car. -The rainy remnants of Hurricane Florence created conditions that caused local creeks and rivers to rise resulting in flooding in East Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer David Kelly carries a dog to safety during Tropical Storm Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A cat walks through a flooded street after Hurricane Florence struck Piney Green, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Members of Coast Guard Shallow-Water Response Boat Team 3 help pets stranded by floodwater caused by Hurricane Florence near Riegelwood, North Carolina, U.S. September 16, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Loumania Stewart/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A wet dog waits with his owners as they await rescue from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Leland, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Carla Ramm checks on her cat Jackjack after they were loaded onto a boat during their rescue from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, in Leland, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A German Shepard is seen on a front porch on Macon Street in the flood waters caused by Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina, U.S. September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Miczek
A man and his dog get a close look at the beach from a golf cart during Hurricane Florence in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Roger Hedgpeth, carrying his dog Bodie, gets help getting to higher ground via the United States Coast Guard during Tropical Storm Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina, U.S. September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Randall Hill
HAMPTON, GEORGIA - Marge and Steve Durham, with their dog Seti and Saba the cat, from Myrtle Beach South Carolina park their RVs and settle into the Family Campground section of the Atlanta Motor Speedway which has been made available for evacuees fleeing Hurricane Florence's path in Hampton Georgia on Thursday September 13, 2018. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A man walks along the street with his dog as people return to their houses after the passing of Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Amanda Mason on Newport, N.C. carries a cat she rescued from her neighborhood off of Nine Foot Road on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 16, 2018. Mason and her partner Zack McWilliams visited their damaged home and found the displaced cat and carried it out to safety. Their home was flooded by fast rising water from a tributary of the Newport River on Friday night. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
A man and his dog walk along a flooded street after the passage of tropical storm Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
An abandoned dog that had been trapped in a cage filling with rising floodwater stands on the steps of its caretaker's home after volunteer rescuer Ryan Nichols of Longview, Texas, freed them in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, in Leland, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake SEARCH "DRAKE DOGS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A dog is illuminated by the flashlights and headlamps of rescue workers inside a house during Tropical Storm Florence at night in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Major poultry and�meat�companies are starting to resume operations in the Carolinas as the torrential rains and flooding unleashed by Hurricane�Florence�start to subside. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sodden cats are brought to a boat by their owner as they are rescued from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, in Leland, North Carolina, U.S., September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16: Dana Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor (L-R) and their dog, Brownie, sit on an evacuation bus as they leave their home ahead of possible flood waters after Hurricane Florence passed through the area on September 16, 2018 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Rain continues to inundate the region causing concern for large scale flooding after Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina and South Carolina area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LUMBERTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 16: From left, Pete Cihuniec and Adam Cooper, members of Colorado Task Force 1, try to catch a dog that got away from its owner as they go door to door checking on residents during Hurricane Florence on September 16, 2018 in Lumberton, North Carolina. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A soaked cat rests at the entrance to a trailer home after swimming there through floodwaters, before eventually being rescued, as the Northeast Cape Fear River breaks its banks after Hurricane Florence in Burgaw, North Carolina, U.S., September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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The Commodity Weather Group said on Sunday there might be some precautionary evacuation of oil rigs in the area affected by the storm, which may slow down operations but not likely cause much interruption.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

More than 45 percent of the nation's refining capacity is located along the U.S. Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 percent of total U.S. natural gas processing capability.

"There is still too much uncertainty to discuss specific impacts, but we do know there will be a HIGH rip current risk, high surf, and increased rain chances beginning Monday," the National Weather Service Mobile/Pensacola said. (Reporting by Rich McKay and Andrew Hay Editing by Susan Fenton and Nick Zieminski)

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