Hurricane Michael grew into a potentially deadly Category 4 storm today before it was due to smash into Florida’s Gulf shore with towering waves and roof-shredding winds as 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisory’s. Hurricane Michael was packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour, hours before it was set to make landfall on Florida’s Panhandle or Florida’s Big Bend where it potentially could unleash devastating waves as high as 13 feet.
Some of the storm’s most significant early impact was to offshore energy production. U.S. producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 percent and natural gas output by 28 percent on Tuesday.
The storm is likely to dump a large amount of rain over Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as the Carolinas – and into Virginia. Up to a foot of rainfall is forecast for some areas. Landfall is expected this afternoon between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Overnight Michael will move through Georgia and be in South Carolina on Thursday, move through North Carolina and be off the coast of Virginia Beach by Friday morning.
For Martinsville and Henry County – a Flash Flood Watch is in effect from Thursday morning through late Thursday night. Heavy rain and flash flooding are possible ahead of and during the passage of Michael. According to the National Weather Service, an increasing southeast flow combined with an upper disturbance will bring a period of moderate to heavy rain to the North Carolina mountains and adjacent foothills this morning into the afternoon. After somewhat of a lull tonight, the main rain band associated with Michael will push across Thursday. The threat for heavy rain and flash flooding will be highest Thursday into Thursday evening. The storm will move past quickly, ending the threat from the southwest Thursday evening into Thursday night. Heavy rains associated with a southeast flow of moisture ahead of Michael is expected to develop Thursday morning and spread east across the region into Thursday night as Michael passes. Rainfall totals of two to five inches are expected. The heavy rain and very high rainfall rates could produce dangerous flash flooding across the area. Runoff from the heavy rain could also result in minor flooding along the Dan River.