Blog: Michael Makes Landfall Today. Forecasting Local Impacts


Michael had strengthened into a category 4 hurricane since yesterday, and that was not a surprise.  It has been moving over very warm water, and there was very little wind shear affecting it.  The eye was very pronounced on radar.

Unfortunately, now it looks like it will make landfall as a category 4 hurricane.  Sustained winds could be around 140mph as Michael moves ashore.

The storm surge down there could be between 9 and 12ft.  There will likely be major damage near and east of Panama City.  There could be some moderate damage west of Panama City. 

After landfall the system will move inland and turn northeast.  A big cold front that is currently to the west will move in and start steering Michael to the northeast.

Regional Weather Map

The hurricane will weaken over land and become a tropical storm through Thursday.  During the day Thursday we’ll have showers ahead of the storm while the center moves form Georgia up into western North Carolina.  By Thursday evening the rain will quickly increase in our region.

The wind will also rapidly increase as well. 

The worst of the weather will move through late Thursday night into Friday morning.  then conditions will quickly improve as Michael streams away from our area through the day on Friday. 

The models are in good agreement now about the track and the timing of the storm.  Even the European model has picked up speed. 

So if it follows the official forecast, then we may have clearing skies by 9am Friday morning. 

We will have some moderate impacts in the region.  First off… the rain.  Our computer model is calling for about 3-6″ of rain with some areas getting 7″ or more.

I think it’s a little overdone, but I’m not completely ruling against it.  The system will be moving through very fast afterall.  However, I also think the interaction with the cold front will cause heavy some downpours.  Here is the European model’s forecast. It shows lesser amounts, but not by much.

So for now I am calling for about 2-4″ with some areas getting 4-6″.  The band of heavy rain will be determined by the exact track. 

There is a Flash Flood Watch for most of the region from Thursday morning until Friday morning. The heaviest rain is forecast between 11pm Thursday and 3am Friday based off of the latest track.

As far as the winds…  They will be southeast at 5-10mph today (light).  It will be out of the south/southeast at 10-15mph with gusts to 25mph tomorrow. By tomorrow night the winds will be very strong out of the southeast

Winds could run at 20-40mph (purple area above).  The gusts could be between 40-60mph.  There are a couple of models which suggest a few gusts could be up to hurricane strength (74mph or higher).  We’ll see about that.  I think that may be overdone, but stay tuned for updates.  Wind will turn out of the northwest Friday morning, and they will still be strong for a while as Michael moves out to sea.

Then winds will quickly drop off through the midday and afternoon.  Skies will clear quickly.

I don’t think we’ll see much tidal flooding this time.  The storm will be coming up across land out of the southwest.  Plus, it is going to be moving fast.  There may be some minor flooding on the North Carolina sounds up into Virginia beach before the storm arrives. This will be as the winds will be out of the south/southeast for a while.  However, the wind will turn to out of the northwest by early Friday morning.  So that shouldn’t last long.  There may be some brief sound-side flooding across the Outer Banks Friday morning, but that probably won’t last too long. 

We will see at least some isolated tornadoes in the region.  It’s possible that we could see several tornadoes.  There will already be a large amount of spin in the area due to the tropical storm.  So it’s common for some of the storms and bands to focus that spin on a small zone. 

The wind alone may cause some branches and trees to fall.  We may have scattered to numerous power outages in the region.  It’s been warm out lately.  Some folks may still have lawn furniture out.  Be sure to secure that and also your garbage cans and hanging plants. 

Behind the system we will have much cooler and drier air move in.  High temps will be near 70 already on Friday. Then highs will only be in the upper 60s on Saturday with fair skies.  Lows will be in the 50s with possibly a few 40s inland.  We’ll have fair skies on Sunday with highs in the low 70s.  THIS will finally feel like Fall.

There are 2 other systems in the tropics.  Hurricane Leslie was recently moving south.  It should turn more to the east and linger for a few more days, but the official forecast does not have it hitting Europe anymore.  (Stay tuned).  Also tropical storm Nadine is moving northwest.  It should stay out to sea, and will hopefully fall apart in a few days.

Stay tuned for updates to all this.

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

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