Hurricane Michael will make landfall in Florida sometime Wednesday afternoon before barreling its way across the northern portion of the Sunshine State and eventually into parts of Virginia throughout the week.
Michael, a Category 2 on the Saffir Simpson hurricane wind scale, is expected to pelt Florida’s panhandle with wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour, several inches of rain, and potentially deadly storm surge. Forecasters also believe the storm will likely affect people in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas.
The highest forecast wind gusts from Michael, which could become a Category 3 sometime Tuesday, will be close to 140 mph inside the eyewall, as the storm skirts along the Gulf Coast. Most of that energy will dissipate over time as the storm travels across land.
Highest forecast wind gusts from #HurricaneMichael will be in Eastern eyewall as landfall occurs … up to 140 mph gust right along coast.
Even with land friction, entire FL panhandle from Pensacola to Tallahassee including Interstate 10 will see 50-80 mph+ gusts = tree damage. pic.twitter.com/6ZmmLVNAHT
— Ryan Maue | weathermodels.com (@RyanMaue) October 9, 2018
Nevertheless, officials are still warning that Michael will leave a long-lasting impact on the lives of those living in Florida and Alabama. Both states declared states of emergency ahead of the storm on Monday.
“Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades,” Scott told reporters Monday. “Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state. This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.” (RELATED: 400,000 People Without Power As Florence Slams The Carolinas)
The storm surge could reach a deadly 12 feet, Scott added.
8am Intermediate Advisory from @NHC_Atlantic upgrades #HurricaneMichael into a category 2 hurricane. Keep in mind, wind (which the categories are based on) will NOT be the only impacts with this storm. Expect life-threatening storm surge along much of the Gulf Coast, and more. pic.twitter.com/wuPnEQ9hkE
— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) October 9, 2018
Michael is hitting Florida relatively late in the hurricane season, which starts in early June and ends on November 30. It’s one of a handful of powerful hurricanes to hit this late in the season — Hurricane Kate slammed the Sunshine State in mid-November 1985 as a Category 2.
But Hazel was perhaps the most intense hurricane to hit the East Coast. It arrived on Oct. 15, 1954 as a monstrous Category 4 and killed at least 400 people in Haiti before striking North and South Carolina. Hazel eventually hit Canada as a tropical storm, raising the death toll by 81 people. Hazel had its name retired from use for Atlantic hurricanes.
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