Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico with every passing hour, the storm was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.
While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days’ notice. It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by Tuesday, at least 120,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.
Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the hurricane.
The storm will weaken as it tracks toward North Carolina, but it will still bring heavy rain on Thursday.
Gov. Roy Cooper spoke Tuesday about preparations that were in place for when Michael begins dropping rain on North Carolina.
In the Triangle, rain chances go up Wednesday, but Thursday will be the wettest day of the week. This timing could change if the storm slows down.
That much rain could cause some problems as the ground is still rather wet, especially in the Sandhills.
Likely, the onset of the rain will infiltrate into the soil with no problem, but after an inch or so, runoff is possible.
The Weather Prediction Center has about 1-3” of rain falling across our area with a few areas getting as much as 4″. This could cause flash flooding especially since the ground is still saturated from Florence.
Timing and rainfall amounts will be fine-tuned as we get closer to the event. Unfortunately, the first day of the North Carolina State Fair could be rather wet.
The rain clears out Friday morning as a cold front sweeps the storm out to sea.
After the storm moves past, much cooler and drier air moves in and it will finally feel like autumn!
The good news is that Michael will move faster than Florence did, thanks to the jet stream and the aforementioned strong cold front.
Keep in mind with this storm being a few days out, timing and local impacts will change. These predictions are based on the current track of the storm.
(Copyright ©2018 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.)