Michael has now reached hurricane strength. Michael will move northward through the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and Tuesday night. The hurricane is expected to strengthen and is forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane by the time of landfall. Landfall is expected along the central Gulf of Mexico. Current forecasts have the storm’s eye striking the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area late Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning , and then moving northeastward Wednesday night and Thursday.
Michael is now a Category 1 Hurricane.
Michael will get stronger before making landfall.
Heavy rain from Michael will soak the southeast this week.
After landfall in northern Florida, Michael will race northeastward and through the Carolinas on Thursday. While the hurricane will weaken quickly after landfall, it is expected to remain a strong tropical storm as it passes through the Carolinas. Wind gusts to tropical storm force, locally heavy rain, and isolated tornadoes will be possible. Micheal will be nothing like Florence which took 3 days to move through the region.
This is NOT another Florence. Michael will be a fast-moving, quick-hitting system. While some periods of heavy rain are likely, it will not last very long. Based on the latest forecast track, six to eight inches of rain are possible with isolated higher amounts up to twelve inches. These rainfall amounts may lead to areas of widespread flooding. There will be a rise on area rivers throughout the southeast following Michael.
Michael will weaken quickly as it moves through the southeastern US by Thursday. However, the fast speed of the system may allow for gusty winds to tropical storm force near and along the track. Based on the latest forecast track and intensity, wind gusts of 30-50 mph will be likely through Thursday. Winds of this magnitude will be capable of knocking down some trees and result in power outages.
A major storm surge of 6-12 feet is likely along the Gulf Coast. With the system tracking inland from the coast a period of rough surf and significant beach erosion is likely along the Gulf Coast as strong on-shore winds develop.
With Michael tracking through the southeast, areas near and east of the track will have the risk of tornadoes Wednesday and Thursday.