By Monday morning, almost the entire central USA will see very heavy rain and possible strong storms. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.
Either way, we'll likely experience a quick period of heavy rain somewhere along the Carolinas and perhaps some wind gusts between 40 to 45 miles per hour from late Wednesday into Thursday and perhaps even into Friday morning before Michael quickly moves off the North Carolina coast. A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. The storm's current predicted track shows it making landfall Wednesday in the Panhandle, according the National Hurricane Center.
"Additional strengthening is forecast, and Michael is expected to become a hurricane later today".
Though forecasters expect the hurricane to hit the Panhandle, the storm may "affect portions of the Florida Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storms exact track or intensity". A hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, and tropical storm watches have been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island and from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Keep in mind that in a hurricane, the impacts can stretch hundreds of miles outside the center - including wind, tropical downpours that lead to flooding, storm surge, and tornadoes.
The 2018 hurricane season isn't over yet. On average, the Atlantic would have about five hurricanes by October 8.
Forecasters have warned that Michael's strength could be "catastrophic" for communities in its path - anywhere from Pensacola on the western flank of the Florida Panhandle to Tampa.
"Everybody's got to get ready".
A news release from the governor's office said declaring a state of emergency ensures that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare for the storm.
The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties. The storm could sweep across much of North Florida to the East Coast.
The Florida panhandle will be hardest hit, with parts of the Tallahassee and Panama City areas getting 12 inches of rainfall along with damaging winds.
Cuban officials issued the warning for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Isle of Youth. Hurricane conditions are expected within the next 12 hours, according to the NHC.
The hurricane center warned that the storm could produce a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.
A new tropical system may develop this weekend, while Tropical Storm Leslie continues to spin in the central Atlantic.