Hurricane Michael is forecast to get much stronger and its headed toward delivering a hard, direct hit on the Florida panhandle as a Category 3 storm on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Michael will bring “life-threatening” winds and flooding that will extend from the Florida panhandle into southern Georgia and southeast Alabama as the storm passes by, forecasters said.
Storm surge will also be “life-threatening” along the coast, likely reaching five to 12 feet in some panhandle locations including from the Okaloosa/Walton line to Indian Pass and Cedar Key. The latest forecast track in the NHC’s Monday 4 p.m. update has shifted slightly to the west, closer to Destin/Walton County and Panama City, though it could be further adjusted in the coming days before landfall.
“Michael could develop into a potentially catastrophic event for the northeastern Gulf Coast,” the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida, wrote in a forecast discussion note Monday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center said that Hurricane Michael will experience “steady to rapid strengthening” and that its maximum sustained winds could reach 120 miles per hour in 36 hours, just before landfall. Hurricane Michael is forecast to approach the Florida panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 3 storm with winds of 115 miles per hour.
Hurricane Michael is a fast-developing major threat to the Florida panhandle and the southeast U.S. states likely impacted. Hurricane warnings have now been issued for portions of the Florida panhandle.
“Life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast, and a storm surge warning is in effect for these areas,” the National Hurricane Center said Monday. “Residents in these areas should follow all advice given by their local officials.”
Here is everything we know on Hurricane Michael, its path, latest models and landfall timing as of late Monday afternoon:
Where’s Hurricane Michael headed, where’s the impact?
These are the following warnings and watches issued for Hurricane Michael so far:
–A Storm Surge Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast of Florida from the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to Anclote River.
–The Storm Surge Watch has been extended west of Navarre Florida to the Alabama/Florida border.
–A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast of Florida from the Alabama/Florida border eastward to Suwannee River.
–A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border.
–A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border and from Suwannee River Florida southward to Chassahowitzka Florida.
–A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from the Mississippi/Alabama border westward to the Mouth of the Pearl River.
How hard will Hurricane Michael hit?
Michael is rapidly developing into a major storm. It is forecast to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 miles per hour. This will bring significant storm surge to an area forecast from the Okaloosa/Walton line through Cedar Key. Here are predicted storm surge levels and locations:
Indian Pass FL to Cedar Key FL…8-12 ft
Cedar Key FL to Crystal River FL…6-8 ft
Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL to Indian Pass FL…5-8 ft
Crystal River FL to Anclote River FL…4-6 ft Anclote River to Anna Maria Island FL including Tampa Bay…2-4 ft
Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL…2-4 ft
Flooding will also be a concern and the National Weather Service is currently forecasting these rainfall amounts: “Florida Panhandle and Big Bend across Georgia into South Carolina… 4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods.”
How strong will Hurricane Michael Become?
Michael will encounter warm waters and low wind shear in the next 36 hours, strengthening on a pace from steady to rapid, the National Hurricane Center said Monday in its 4 p.m. advisory. These are the forecast winds speeds and timing for Michael:
12 hours: 100 MPH
24 hours: 110 MPH
36 hours: 120 MPH
48 hours: 115 MPH…NEAR THE COAST
72 hours: 50 MPH…INLAND
Where will Hurricane Michael hit?
The latest European models have hedged a bit more west than the official National Hurricane Center in the last day but the official forecast track was shifted slightly west Monday afternoon in the latest NHC path update. Current models show Hurricane Michael hitting closer to Panama City. The track is could shift more in the next 36 hours as the storm approaches.
“Michael is forecast to move north-northwestward to northward between a deep-layer ridge over the western Atlantic and a trough over the west-central United States,” the NHC said.
“The trough is forecast move eastward, causing Michael to turn northeastward in 36 to 48 hours, and the cyclone should then accelerate northeastward as it enters the mid-latitude westerly flow. The 1200 UTC dynamical models have converged on both the track and forward speed through the first 48 to 72 hours. The updated NHC track has been nudged slightly westward through 48 hours to be closer to the latest consensus aids.”
When will Hurricane Michael make landfall?
The latest National Hurricane Center forecast model shows Michael hitting land between Panama City and Apalachicola at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Hurricane conditions will arrive hours before that, however. Tropical storm conditions could arrive late Tuesday night.
Where is Hurricane Michael headed after landfall?
Michael will travel late Wednesday and Thursday into Georgia, brushing through southeastern Alabama, before hitting South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia as a tropical storm. Michael, uniquely, is expected to maintain tropical storm strength over land until it exits into the Atlantic early Friday morning.
Where is Hurricane Michael right now?
Hurricane Michael is currently located about 520 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. It is moving north at nine miles per hour.
Do we need to evacuate?
Some evacuations have already been ordered and more may be forthcoming. Here are the latest evacuations and evacuation maps for the Florida panhandle. Some schools have already closed in advance of Hurricane Michael. See more on the closings list here.