The Latest: Hurricane Michael Quickly Moving Northward Toward The Carolinas

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Updated: 6:15 p.m.

Hurricane Michael has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour as it charges northward through Georgia.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm will likely move through the Charlotte region Thursday afternoon, bringing with it heavy rainfall and gusty winds.

Graphs show 2 to 4 inches of rain for the Charlotte area, with central and northern parts of the state set to receive 4 to 6 inches. The parts of North Carolina’s eastern coast hit hardest by Florence are expected to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain.

Updated: 5 p.m. 

Hurricane Michael has slowed down a bit after hitting the Florida panhandle Wednesday afternoon. The storm remains a category 4 hurricane, but has maximum sustained winds of 140 miles-per-hour.

As Michael moves northward through Georgia, it’s expected to sweep through the Carolinas Thursday afternoon into evening. Officials are telling hurricane-weary residents to beware.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to inform residents about Hurricane Michael. McMaster emphasized that the hurricane would not bring as strong winds or as much rain to South Carolina.

“But again, this is just a reminder that we do live in hurricane alley, we have a lot of hurricanes in South Carolina and they come from all different directions,” McMaster said.

When asked what he’d say to people who weren’t taking the hurricane seriously, McMaster urged caution.

“We can always hope for the best,” McMaster said. “But prepare for the worst.”

The Charlotte region is expected to receive 4 to 6 inches of rain, with other parts of the Carolinas expecting 2 to 4 inches. The North Carolina coast, areas hit hardest by Hurricane Florence, a predicted to see 1 to 2 inches.

Updated: 1:55 p.m. 

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s Mexico Beach a little after 1:40 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center.

Michael has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, hitting the coast with 155 miles-per-hour winds. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the storm’s center, according to the Associated Press.

The National Hurricane Center predicts 4 to 6 inches of rain for the Charlotte area and 6 to 10 inches for a portion of northern North Carolina, near the Virginia boarder. Parts of the state’s coast hit hardest by Hurricane Florence will likely see 1 to 2 inches of rain. 

There is a flash flood watch in effect from 6 a.m. to midnight Thursday for the Charlotte area. The Carolinas will likely experience gusty winds from Michael late Wednesday night through Thursday. 

Updated: 11:50 a.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency for North Carolina as Hurricane Michael approaches. The governor also activated 150 National Guard troops for emergency preparations and implored residents to be prepared for the coming storm. 

“The last thing people cleaning up from Florence need right now is more wind and rain, but this storm is coming and we will be ready for it,” Cooper said.

Michael is expected to hit the Florida panhandle this afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm, which currently has maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, is expected to weaken and track over the Carolinas Thursday, causing the first-ever tropical storm watch and warning for the area. By the time it reaches the Carolinas, it could be a tropical depression or Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service.

Michael is expected to bring heavy wind and rain to the region early tomorrow morning into tomorrow afternoon. In the latest forecast from the National Weather Service, the Charlotte metro area is expecting 4 to 6 inches of rain that could cause flooding and downed trees.

There is a flash flood watch in effect for the area.

The National Weather Service has also issued a tropical storm watch and warning for portions for the region south of Charlotte. 

The North Carolina coast, in some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Florence last month, is expected to get 1-2 inches of rain and see strong winds.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jake Wimberley says the ground along the coast is already saturated and additional rainfall could cause a problem. Wimberley says he does not expect the storm to linger over North Carolina and South Carolina like Hurricane Florence did. Michael is expected to head back out into the Atlantic Ocean along the Virginia – North Carolina border.