Hurricane Michael is strengthening. The storm entered the Gulf of Mexico Monday and will track northward across the Gulf on Tuesday. Further strengthening is likely, and Michael could become a dangerous and destructive category three hurricane before making landfall around midday Wednesday. Landfall will happen between Destin and Apalachicola. The biggest impact will be around Panama City, Mexico Beach, Port Saint Joe, Apalachicola, Alligator Point, Saint Marks and St. George Island.
Those impacts include a potentially deadly 9-12 foot storm surge, powerful and destructive 115-125 mph winds, tornadoes, coastal flooding, flash flooding and river flooding. Rough surf and dangerous rip currents are also likely from Louisiana to South Florida. Remember the impacts can be felt well away from the center and the point of landfall. Michael is a large hurricane, and its impact will be far reaching.
For us, the biggest impact from Hurricane Michael will be rain Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. The biggest rain will be from I-65 east to the Georgia state line. That's where a half-inch to an inch of rain will fall. Locally higher amounts are possible in spots. Rain west of I-65 across the Shoals will generally amount to less than a half-inch, but locally higher amounts of up to an inch are possible in spots. Wind gusts of 20-25 mph may happen, but damaging winds are not likely. The tornado threat and the risk for heaviest rain will pass east of the Tennessee Valley.
Hurricane Michael will shake up the flow of the atmosphere and break the large scale weather pattern that has kept us locked in summer-like heat. Much cooler air will arrive on Thursday night, and we will feel more like October late this week and this weekend. Highs will drop to the upper 60s and lower 70s. Lows will drop to the upper 40s and lower 50s. It's time to dig out the jackets!