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Michael Now Accelerating Through Central Georgia; Deadly Storm Surge, Damaging Winds Continue Following Florida Panhandle Landfall
Published: October 11, 2018
Michael made landfall as a catastrophic, unprecedented Category 4 hurricane on the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon. Destructive winds will down trees and cause more extensive power outages across the Southeastern coast into Thursday.
Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, around 12:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars.
Michael is currently located in central Georgia, and is accelerating northeastward.
Michael arrived in southwestern Georgia early Wednesday evening as a Category 3 major hurricane, the first hurricane of that strength to track into Georgia since the Georgia Hurricane of 1898, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.
Current Storm Status
Rain from Michael has spread across much of Georgia and will spread into the Carolinas overnight from west to east. Rain and winds are calming across Florida and southern Georgia.
(INTERACTIVE: Latest Radar of Michael)
Current Radar, Watches and Warnings
A storm surge over 7.7 feet was reported at Apalachicola, Florida, Wednesday afternoon, and it was still reporting about 2 feet of inundation above ground level Wednesday evening. Cedar Key, Florida, saw a storm surge over 5 feet Wednesday afternoon.
Destructive winds continue to spread northeastward into central Georgia. Tropical storm conditions are expected in eastern Georgia and the Carolinas overnight into Thursday.
Current Winds and Wind Gusts
An observing site near Tyndall Air Force Base, east of Panama City, measured a wind gust to 129 mph early Wednesday afternoon, and a gust to 107 mph was reported 1 mile south of Panama City. Marianna Municipal Airport recorded a wind gust to 102 mph late Wednesday afternoon, and a 71-mph gust was reported at Tallahassee International Airport.
A sustained wind of 59 mph with a gust to 74 mph was observed at a University of Florida/Weatherflow observing site just north of St. George Island late Wednesday afternoon. Apalachicola Regional Airport measured sustained winds of 63 mph with a gust to 89 mph midday Wednesday, and St. George Island recorded a wind gust of 70 mph Wednesday morning.
A storm surge warning is in effect from the Panama City to Keaton Beach, Florida. This means life-threatening storm surge inundation is ongoing in the warning area.
A storm surge watch has been hoisted from Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina. This means life-threatening storm surge inundation is possible in the watch area.
Storm Surge Watches and Warnings
A hurricane warning continues in central and southwestern Georgia where spotty gusts to hurricane force may continue overnight.
A tropical storm warning has been issued from north of Fernandina Beach, Florida, to Duck, North Carolina. This includes Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. The tropical storm warning also extends inland to portions of southwestern Georgia, including Valdosta. This means tropical-storm-force winds are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
Watches and Warnings
Michael made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and became the strongest hurricane to ever come ashore along the Florida Panhandle in records dating to 1851, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University. In fact, Florida's entire Gulf coast north of Punta Gorda had never recorded a Category 4-plus hurricane landfall until Michael.
(LATEST NEWS: Hurricane Michael Impacts)
- Michael will accelerate inland across the southeastern U.S. through Thursday night with gusty winds and heavy rain.
- Michael could enhance rainfall in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England Thursday night and Friday.
Life-threatening, catastrophic storm surge flooding continues along the immediate coastline near and east of Michael's landfall location near Mexico Beach, Florida into very early Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center said water levels could reach the following heights if the peak storm surge arrives at high tide:
- Panama City to Keaton Beach, Florida: 3 to 5 feet
- Sound side of the North Carolina Outer Banks from Ocracoke Inlet to Duck, North Carolina: 2 to 4 feet
Storm Surge Forecast
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.
- Tropical-storm-force (39-plus mph) winds are occurring in central Georgia and will continue to spread northeastward within the tropical storm warning area along the southeastern U.S. coast through Friday.
- Strong winds are also forecast over portions southeastern Virginia, extreme northeastern North Carolina and the Delmarva Peninsula as Michael becomes post-tropical off the mid-Atlantic coast late Thursday night or Friday.
- Winds may actually increase as Michael arrives in coastal North Carolina or Virginia Thursday night or Friday.
Wind Gust Forecast
Power Outage Potential
- Most all customers will lose power, with major tree damage and structural damage along the path of Michael near and just inland from its landfall location on the Florida Panhandle and in southwestern Georgia. These power outages may last over a week in some of these areas.
- Widespread power outages may also extend into parts of southern and eastern Georgia, southeastern Alabama, the Lowcountry of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina given Michael's faster movement.
- Winds capable of at least scattered power outages and at least some tree damage may extend into parts of northern Georgia, upstate South Carolina, central and northeastern North Carolina and possibly far southeastern Virginia. This is a particular concern in areas where soil is still saturated from Florence's torrential rain in northeastern South Carolina and North Carolina.
- One forecast model from the University of Michigan suggests there could be at least 1 million customers without power from Michael, from Florida to North Carolina
- Metro areas that may experience power outages include: Tallahassee, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg, Charleston, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.
Power Outage Potential
- The rest of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia may pick up 3 to 6 inches of rain, potentially triggering flash flooding. Locally, up to 8 inches is possible. This will include some areas devastated by flooding from Hurricane Florence. That said, this system will move quickly rather than stall like Florence did and will, therefore, not bring extreme rainfall amounts.
- Florida, eastern mid-Atlantic states and southern New England coast may see 1 to 3 inches of rain.
Additional Rainfall Forecast
- As is typical with landfalling tropical systems, isolated tornadoes will be a threat on the eastern side of the storm.
- A tornado watch is in effect for much of South Carolina and portions of eastern Georgia through the mid-morning hours.
- Thursday and Thursday night, that tornado threat spreads into the coastal Carolinas.
Check back with weather.com throughout the week for more details on the latest on Michael.
Outer rainbands from Michael soaked the Florida Keys on Monday. 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.
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