Tropical storm Michael was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Monday as it barreled toward the US Gulf Coast packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, meteorologists said.

The weather system was located between Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and the west coast of Cuba by 1500 GMT and was heading slowly towards the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

It is expected to hit major hurricane strength and move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then northeastward across the southeastern United States through Thursday.