Tropical Storm Michael is on track to hit the Florida Panhandle midweek as a Category 2 hurricane packing 100 miles per hour or stronger winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. The tropical storm is expected to swell into a Category 1 hurricane as soon as tonight or early Tuesday as it rolls into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, with winds of 70 mph, as of 5 a.m. eastern time. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Sunday and has put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert. Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday as it churned in the Caribbean. The storm moved north on a path between Cozumel in southeastern Mexico and the western tip of Cuba. Outer bands from Michael are expected produce as much as 4 inches of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys.
After hitting Florida, the storm is then forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas. For us, high pressure will drift off the coast and keep a warm and moist southeasterly flow of air over the region through midweek. This will bring some morning fog and an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms to the Appalachians and central mid-Atlantic region through Wednesday. Depending on the track of tropical storm Michael and its interaction with a cold front, heavy rain and minor flooding may occur Wednesday into Thursday.
In the forecast – 20 percent chance of rain today and tonight, 30 percent Tuesday, 40 percent Tuesday night, 80 percent Wednesday and Thursday, 60 percent Thursday night, sun Friday and Saturday. Highs 75-80 and lows 66-68 through Thursday, then it will turn cooler getting down to 57 Thursday night, 50 Friday night, and 48 on Saturday night. Highs Friday through Sunday will be 66-69.