Blog: Tropical Storm Michael Moves In Tonight

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UPDATE: A tornado watch is in effect for the entire viewing area until 9 p.m.


Michael caused major damage along the Florida Gulf coast as it made landfall yesterday as a category 4 hurricane. It actually did weaken dramatically in the 24 hours following. That was well forecast by the National Hurricane Center. Now, Tropical Storm Michael is moving through South Carolina. There is a lot rain to the north and east of the center. There have been some gusts around 45 mph around that center as well. 

Rain And Wind

The storm is moving northeast at about 20 mph. So it is moving at a good clip. The storm is on track to move into Hampton Roads this evening. 

The evening commute could be a mess of rain and wind. Rain and wind will increase into the overnight hours. Then, by early Friday morning, the storm will already move away from land.

With the faster track, now it looks like the majority of Friday will see nice weather. We’ll definitely have sunshine, but the winds will take longer to taper off.

Timing out the rain…We’ll have scattered showers ahead of the system today. We already saw a batch of showers this morning. The rain chances will increase later today. The heavier rain will start moving in by the evening. This will be some wind-driven rain during the evening commute. 

The rain will be pretty steady into the overnight. Heavy rain will pick up at times, but the rain will quickly move east after about midnight.

The rain should all push out by about 5 a.m. tomorrow morning. This means that Friday will have pretty much full sunshine. 

The timing of the wind will be a little different. The wind will increase a little today — way out ahead of the system.

Gusts will be up to 25 mph by the afternoon. The strong southeast breeze will let very deep moisture lift into the area. The wind will really increase this evening. They will be out of the southeast at 15-30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph near the shore by 8-10 mph.

The wind will turn out of the northwest behind the storm late tonight. The cold front interaction could let the winds strengthen and spread out from the center of Michael. Even as the storm starts moving offshore.

The stronger winds will push to near the shore tomorrow morning from 4-7 a.m. Then, as Michael jets away, the winds will steadily decrease through Friday afternoon. There is a High Wind Warning for areas near the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean. Also a Tropical Storm Warning for Dare county.

We still have a Flash Flood Watch in effect for the viewing area, but I’ve been trimming the rain totals a bit. Partly due to the faster speed of the storm, but also the models keep trending the band of heavier rain northward. Here is our Future Trak model’s forecast for rainfall:

The NAM and GFS models are a little more spread out with the amounts.

I’m siding with the latter two for now. The reason is that most of the rain falling around Michael is to the east and north of the storm. With the center forecast to track right across Hampton Roads, this would put us into the rain shield for a longer time. 

Another threat that has actually increased is the potential for tornadoes.  I’ve though that there would be a decent chance for tornadoes in the region two days ago. Now, the Storm Prediction Center is agreeing with me. They now have our area in an enhanced risk for severe weather (level 3 out of 5). 

There will be a lot of deep rich moisture in the region. So cloud decks will drop very low. Also, the tropical storm itself is a large area of low pressure. So we could easily see isolated to possibly multiple tornadoes in the region late this afternoon until about 1-2 a.m.  The enhanced risk also includes the chance for severe winds.  This could cause some minor wind damage itself. Wind gusts could be between 45 and 55 mph with a few gusts up to 60 mph. This may create some scattered power outages. 

I still don’t think tidal flooding will be an issued this time. The storm is moving too fast, and it is coming in from the southwest. There may be some brief sound-side flooding across the Outer Banks.

Behind this system we will definitely have some Fall weather for a couple of days.  This will last through the weekend.  Highs will be in the upper 60s to low 70s.  We will warm up again for a day or two next week.  Highs will be back in the 80s on Tuesday, but at least it won’t last too long. 

I’m not going to talk about Leslie nor Nadine in this blog. Both look like they will stay out to sea. 

Stay tuned for updates.

Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler

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