As of late Monday morning, Tropical Storm Michael was upgraded to Hurricane Michael, with sustained (steady) wind blowing at 75 mph, surpassing the 74 mph threshold to reach hurricane classification.
As Michael draws north over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and winds aloft favor development and strengthening, the storm is expected to strengthen right up until landfall somewhere in the Panhandle of Florida on Wednesday.
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While the National Hurricane Center forecast brings Michael to a 110 mph, Category 2 storm before landfall, conditions are so favorable that we wouldn’t be surprised to see the storm closer to 125 to 130 mph. Winds at those speeds would make this a major hurricane and further raise the potential for damage owing to both wind and storm surge.
Regardless, the storm will -- as all tropical systems do -- begin weakening after landfall, but still leave a swath of around half a foot of rain from the Southeast to the Mid-Atlantic from midweek onward.
At this point, while southeast Massachusetts is in the "cone of probability" from the National Hurricane Center, meaning a pass of the storm center is within the realm of possibility Friday, we don’t see a direct strike from the center as highly likely.
That said, even if the storm center stays south of New England, at least some of the moisture associated with Michael will likely funnel northward into New England. It may interact with our ongoing clash of cool and warm air to produce some tropically infused downpours Thursday and perhaps early Friday.
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As for winds, if the center of the storm does stay south of us and keeps moving, the wind would be rather limited here in New England. But, if the storm slows or moves farther north, the wind would become more of a concern. Those concerns will particularly be for marine interests along the South Coast or who fish in waters south of New England, so we’ll monitor trends with this storm carefully in the days ahead.
The good news is, whatever’s left of Michael will be moving quickly enough it should be out of here for the weekend.