We just had a nice quiet weekend locally. It was quiet and mild, but it never really cooled down too much. At the same time a tropical system finally formed over the western Caribbean Sea. Tropical Storm Michael was quickly gaining strength. It was a tropical depression yesterday evening. Now it is already going to become a hurricane sometime today.
(Update: As of the 11am update, Michael is now a category 1 hurricane.)
Michael is forecast to move north over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There will be less wind shear than there is now, so the system is forecast to strengthen into a category 3 hurricane before landfall.
The system is forecast to make landfall somewhere over the Florida Panhandle by late Wednesday.
After landfall, Michael is expected to move northeast. It is forecast to move towards our region by late Thursday into early Friday morning.
The most likely path sends it into northeast North Carolina. The current National Hurricane Center forecast calls for Michael to head out fast. It could be gone by midday Friday and already heading out to sea.
The models are in pretty good agreement up until landfall. However, they do have a big split thereafter.
Many of them do send it up this way, but the exact location is yet to be determined. The two big models that we always follow are the GFS and the European models. The GFS is much faster and farther north than the European model.
Take a look:
The GFS model (and our Future Trak model) have the bulk of the rain pushing in on Thursday.
They have the system and the rain already heading out by Friday morning. Meanwhile, the Euro has the bulk of the rain from late Thursday through at least Friday afternoon. Then it gradually has Michael heading out to sea. It has the system tracking more to the south between Wilmington NC and Hatteras NC. Due to the slower motion of the Euro, it actually has more rain in the forecast despite tracking farther south.
The GFS would bring Hampton Roads more wind, but it would be less rain. Both of these scenarios would impact areas that are still recovering from Florence. One more than the other. Based on how the models handled Florence, I would say that I slightly favor the European model at this point. Probably a blend of the two. However, the National Hurricane Center’s forecast is a little closer to the GFS.
It’s still early, so we have a little time for the models to come together. At this point, I would expect at least some rain in the region. In the best case scenario, we would get some rain (which we need), not much wind, and cooler temps behind the system. In a worst case scenario we would get heavy downpours that could lead to localized flooding, strong gusty winds, and possibly some isolated tornadoes in the region.
There probably won’t be any tidal flooding unless the Euro is right. Then we may see some minor tidal flooding Friday into Saturday. Either way it looks like we’ll have some nice weather following. We’ll be cooler and drier from late Friday into the weekend. Highs will probably be in the low 70s.
I’m hoping that the models come into a little better agreement later today or by early tomorrow. There’s a lot of football games and homecoming’s next weekend. So I’d wait a day before making any big decisions on those.
Locally today we have high pressure in the region. We’ll have partly cloudy skies. High temps will be in the low 80s. We’ll have a repeat tomorrow, but there will be some isolated showers in the afternoon.
By the way…Leslie is still a tropical storm over in the east/central Atlantic. I could become a hurricane again. It will likely stay out sea over the next 5 days, but it could threaten coastal Europe down the road. Stay tuned for updates to all of these features.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler