NEXUSFOX WEATHER CENTER
FROM THE NEXUSFOX WEATHER CENTER...
At a Glance
Michael is forecast to intensify as it tracks into the Gulf of Mexico.
Michael will threaten the northeastern Gulf Coast by Wednesday, potentially as a major hurricane.
Storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rain are likely impacts along the northeastern Gulf Coast.
Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings have been issued along the Gulf coast of Florida.
Heavy rain and strong winds will spread farther inland across parts of the Southeast after landfall.
Hurricane Michael will continue to intensify and is forecast to strike the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 with dangerous storm surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rainfall. Michael will also bring heavy rain and strong winds to other parts of the southeastern United States after it moves inland.
Michael is currently centered about 30 miles northwest of the western tip of Cuba and is moving northward.
(LATEST NEWS: Evacuations Ordered Along Florida Coast)
Outer rainbands from Michael are already soaking the Florida Keys, and rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are likely there through Tuesday. A few localized spots could see up to 6 inches of rain in the Keys.
A wind gust to 55 mph was measured at the National Weather Service office in Key West, Florida, late Monday afternoon in association with Hurricane Michael's outer rainbands.
Michael rapidly intensified from 11 a.m. EDT Sunday to 11 a.m. EDT Monday, when its winds increased from 35 mph to 75 mph during that 24-hour period.
Current Storm Status
(The highest cloud tops, corresponding to the most vigorous convection, are shown in the brightest red colors. Clustering, deep convection around the center is a sign of a healthy tropical cyclone.)
A hurricane warning is now posted for the Florida Gulf coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida, including Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee. Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours before the anticipated arrival of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph), which is when outside preparations become dangerous.
A hurricane watch has been issued from the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border. The hurricane watch also extends inland to southwestern Georgia, including Albany. Hurricane watches are issued 48 hours before the anticipated arrival of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph), which is when outside preparations become dangerous.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect from the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border and from Suwannee River, Florida, southward to Chassahowitzka, Florida.
Tropical storm watches have been posted from Chassahowitzka, Florida, to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay, and from the Mississippi/Alabama border westward to the mouth of the Pearl River. The tropical storm watch also extends inland to portions of southern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, including Mobile, Alabama, and Valdosta, Georgia.
Watches and Warnings
(A watch means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A warning means those conditions are expected within 36 hours.)
A storm surge warning has been hoisted from the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida to Anclote River, Florida. This means life-threatening storm surge inundation is a danger in the warning area within 36 hours.
Storm surge watches have been issued from Anclote River, Florida, to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay, and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.
Storm Surge Watches and Warnings
(From the National Hurricane Center.)
Interests along the northeastern Gulf Coast in the path of Michael should be making preparations. Follow the advice of local officials if you are ordered to evacuate, particularly if you live in a storm-surge-prone location.
Forecast: Northeastern Gulf Coast Threat Midweek
Forecast guidance is unanimous that Michael will be drawn northward through the Gulf of Mexico and approach the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday.
(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. Note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding) with any tropical cyclone may spread beyond its forecast path.)
Additional intensification is expected during the next day or so and Michael is forecast by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to be at major hurricane strength (Category 3 or stronger) before it makes landfall. This will be due to a combination of increasingly favorable upper-level winds and above-average sea-surface temperatures along Michael's path.
Here's an overview of what we know right now.
- Landfall is most likely to occur somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend of Florida Wednesday into Wednesday night. Depending on how quickly or slowly Michael begins to turn northeastward, landfall could be as early as late Tuesday night or delayed until early Thursday morning.
- Conditions may begin to deteriorate as early as Tuesday evening on the northeastern Gulf Coast.
- After landfall, Michael will then move farther inland across the southeastern U.S. into late-week with gusty winds and heavy rain.
- Michael could enhance rainfall in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England later this week.
- The NHC is forecasting Michael to be a Category 3 hurricane when it approaches the Florida Panhandle.
- There remains some uncertainty in the intensity forecast, and Michael could be slightly weaker or stronger near landfall.
- Michael will still be a dangerous hurricane even if it does not intensify as much as currently forecast.
- Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) could arrive in the hurricane watch area on the northeastern Gulf Coast by Wednesday.
- Tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) are most likely to arrive in the tropical storm watch area on the northeastern Gulf Coast by Tuesday night or early Wednesday.
- Widespread power outages, major tree damage and structural damage will occur along the path of Michael near and just inland from where it makes landfall on the Florida Panhandle.
- Strong winds may extend farther inland across parts of the southeastern U.S. as Michael moves northeastward, including parts of southern Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Although there is uncertainty with the strength of winds across inland locations, there could be scattered tree damage and scattered power outages in those areas.
Tropical-Storm-Force Wind Probabilities
(The contours above show the chance of tropical-storm-force winds (at least 39 mph), according to the latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center. Probabilities can increase or decrease over time.)
- Life-threatening storm surge flooding will occur along the immediate coastline near and east of where the center makes landfall.
- Michael is expected to affect portions of the Florida Gulf coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, particularly Apalachee Bay south of Tallahassee.
The NHC says water levels on the coast could reach the following heights if the peak storm surge arrives at high tide:
- Indian Pass to Crystal River: 8 to 12 feet
- Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass: 5 to 8 feet
- Crystal River to Anclote River: 4 to 6 feet
- Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay: 2 to 4 ft
- Navarre to Okaloosa/Walton County line: 2 to 4 feet
Storm Surge Forecast
(From the National Hurricane Center.)
Here are the high tides for Wednesday and Thursday for a few locations in the storm surge threat area (all times are local):
- Panama City: 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday | 11 p.m. on Thursday
- Apalachicola: 4:39 a.m. and 6:10 p.m. on Wednesday | 4:58 a.m. and 7:04 p.m. on Thursday
- Cedar Key: 2:48 a.m. and 3:36 p.m. on Wednesday | 3:18 a.m. and 4:19 p.m. on Thursday
- Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg: 2:46 a.m. and 4:06 p.m. on Wednesday | 3:09 a.m. and 4:55 p.m. on Thursday
On the southeastern U.S. coast, onshore winds and high astronomical tides will also lead to some coastal flooding this week. Charleston Harbor is forecast to see minor to moderate coastal flooding at high tide.
- Heavy rain is likely to spread inland from the northeastern Gulf Coast midweek to other parts of the southeastern U.S. into late-week.
- Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches are forecast from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend into the Carolinas, according to the NHC. Locally up to a foot of rain is possible. This may cause life-threatening flash flooding in some areas.
- The Florida Peninsula and Florida Keys are forecast to receive 2 to 4 inches of rain from Michael, with isolated totals up to 6 inches possible.
- Some heavy rain will affect parts of the Carolinas that were devastated by flooding from Hurricane Florence. That said, this system is unlikely to stall like Florence did and will, therefore, not bring extreme rainfall amounts. Some flooding could still occur there, but details are uncertain this far out in time.
- Michael may enhance rainfall along a front moving through the East Coast of the U.S. later this week. As a result, parts of the mid-Atlantic and coastal southern New England could see 2 to 4 inches of rain (locally up to 6 inches).
(This should be interpreted as a broad outlook of where the heaviest rain may fall. Higher amounts may occur where bands of rain stall over a period of a few hours.)
- As is typical with landfalling hurricanes, isolated tornadoes will be a threat on the eastern side of the storm.
- A tornado threat may develop in the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia by Wednesday.
Check back with weather.com throughout the week ahead for more details on the forecast for Michael.
Cuba and Mexico Impact
A hurricane warning is now effect for the Pinar del Rio Province in western Cuba. Hurricane conditions are possible there by Monday evening.
Tropical storm warnings have been posted for the Isle of Youth, Cuba, and Mexico's northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, including Cozumel.
Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches (locally 12 inches) are forecast over western Cuba, with 1 to 2 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula.
These downpours could contribute to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides, particularly in areas of mountainous terrain.