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Tropical Storm Michael officially became Hurricane Michael at 11 a.m. Monday and it’s expected to bring heavy winds, inches of rain and a chance of flash floods to parts of the Carolinas later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, the storm was “almost a hurricane” and moving north at 7 mph, reported the National Hurricane Center.
“Continued strengthening expected (with) heavy rainfall and strong winds,” said an 11 a.m. update. “Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night.”
Winds in the 40 to 50 mph range will reach the South Carolina border as early as 8 p.m. Wednesday, says the center.
The storm could dump 2 to 4 inches rain on the Carolinas and flash floods are possible in all of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina, experts say.
Once the storm makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, it is expected to head northeast Wednesday and Thursday. Impact on the Charlotte area could come late Thursday or early Friday, the center says.
On Monday morning, Michael was about 50 miles west of Cuba and had sustained winds of 75 mph range with higher gusts, said the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane force winds are currently extending 30 miles from the center of the storm, officials said at 11 a.m Monday.
Tropical storm force winds of 175 mph were reported extending beyond the center of the storm, said the center.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida panhandle, and a tropical storm watch is in effect much of Florida’s west coast, reports the center.
Storm surge of up to 11 feet is predicted for some stretches of the Florida coast, and up to 12 inches of rain will fall in some isolated areas, says the center.
Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs