“Catastrophic” Hurricane Michael

By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency

CLANTON – 8 am October 10, 2018

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Dale, Henry, Geneva and Houston counties with both a Tropical Storm Warning and Flash Flood Watch near and east of I65 and south of I85.

Everyone in the Alabama warned area needs to have completed their safety plans by now and stay put in a safe location until Thursday morning. Travel may be very difficult or improbable on Thursday for areas sustaining damage.

At 4 am, Hurricane Michael was located 140 miles south-southwest of Panama City, with sustained winds of 140 mph. Hurricane force winds extend 45 miles from the center with tropical storm force winds 185 miles from the center. The current forecast is for Michael to have sustained winds of 145 mph with gusts up to 175 mph just before landfall. Landfall will occur around the Panama City area between 1 pm – 4 pm. Category 5 is defined by sustained winds of 157 mph.

It is expected there will be widespread and significant structural damage, downed trees and power outages across portions of GA, the FL Panhandle, and south AL. Along the coast, between the wind and storm surge, the damage could be catastrophic.

Tropical storm force winds could reach the southern sections of Alabama by 10 am, with the strongest winds expected between 3 pm and 10 pm. The wind threat should exit the state by 3 am Thursday. The graphic below shows the current peak wind gusts expected across the state.2

Locally heavy rainfall can be expected, with amounts of up to 6-8 inches possible. Due to the forward speed of the storm, any flooding should be short-lived, with no concern for prolonged flooding. 3

More detailed forecast information can be found at https://weather.gov and clicking on the area of the state where you live. This will direct you to the local National Weather Service Office that serves your area.

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