0400hrs - Chief Meteorologist Chris White
Early Tuesday Morning Edition
Good Tuesday Morning. Michael will undergo rapid intensification today and become a strong Category 3 Hurricane. Michael will then start to move NNE toward the Big Bend of Florida tonight. We expect landfall Wednesday between the Big Bend and Panama City. Storm surge of 6-12ft will accompany this storm and likely lead to the most districtive storm for that area since Opal in 1995. If you have family or friends in that area they need to evacuate because once the storm hits there, emergency crews will no be able to access them.
Locally though we continue to get a better handle on the track of this storm once landfall occurs Wednesday. A mid latitude trough will sweep a cold front into the area from the west. That front is developing now out in the Rockies with low pressure over West TX and the Oklahoma Panhandle. That front will move into the mountains on Wednesday Night and Thursday, forcing the ridge of high pressure currently over us off to the east into the Atlantic. Michael will continue its NNE movement to a position Thursday Morning near Columbia SC. As Michael phases with this cold front it’s forward movement will accelerate. That will keep the impacts of Michael down across NC. The bad news is the heaviest rainfall totals and winds look like they will be in Eastern NC where widespread 5-8 inch rainfall totals are likely with some locations seeing 10 inches. In an area that was battered by Florence just three weeks ago, this isn’t great news but it could be worse. Michael should hold onto tropical storm status as it progresses across the Southeast before exiting the East Coast, just North of Kitty Hawk NC.
Along the East and northeast quadrant of the storm there will be a tornado threat. Locally we should stay on the Northwest side of the storm system, keeping the tornado impact near 2% or less. In this morning’s graphics we have included a breakdown of impacts by county. This is our first forecast and you should know that some minor adjustments could be needed. Overall the heaviest rainfall today and Wednesday will be along the Southeast and east facing slopes of the Blue Ridge. Michaels most impactful rainfall totals will arrive on Thursday over Cleveland, Lincoln and Catawba Counties. We will fine tune this forecast every 12 hours until the storm hits.
By far over our area this isn’t a storm where you need to panic over but isolated to widely scattered power outages are likely. Winds could gust to 35 mph over most of the viewing area while elevations above 3000ft could see 55mph gusts. Wet soil conditions coupled with 35mph gusts can bring down several trees and powerlines. Make sure you have emergency kits and plans ready just in case.
The threat for flash flooding with Michael is actually the greatest in Cleveland and Lincoln Counties and points East right now. If you live in any of our 8 county coverage area it wouldn’t be a bad plan to have a flood plan in place, just in case Michael tries to pull the wool over our eyes and jog 25-50miles West.
The good news is though that fall arrives on the back side of this front once it and Michael move East.
For the latest monitor our website, social media, and The National Weather Service.