James Spann: Michael to make landfall Wednesday, with impact on southeast Alabama

THIS AFTERNOON: We have high clouds over Alabama this afternoon, along with a few widely scattered showers. Temperatures are mostly in the low to mid 80s. We will maintain the chance of a few showers tonight.

Showers are more likely over the northern two-thirds of Alabama Wednesday as Hurricane Michael makes landfall, but it won’t rain all day, and most places will see amounts of one-half inch or less. Winds will stay under 20 mph over north and central Alabama; the impact from Micheal there will be fairly minimal. The big issues will come across southeast Alabama.

THE LATEST ON HURRICANE MICHAEL: The storm is packing sustained winds of 120 mph, and strengthening will likely continue tonight over the Gulf of Mexico.

  • A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida. The warning includes Geneva and Houston counties in southeast Alabama. Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area along the U.S. Gulf Coast Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by tonight or early Wednesday. Hurricane conditions will also spread well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia.
  • Landfall is expected to be near Panama City Beach Wednesday at category three strength; the main storm surge damage will be from PCB eastward to places like Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carrabelle and through the “Big Bend” region.

  • A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida to Anclote River, Florida. The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground in Florida if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide: Indian Pass to Cedar Key, 8-12 feet; Cedar Key to Crystal River, 6-8 feet; Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass, 6-9 feet; Crystal River to Aripeka, 4-6 feet; Aripeka to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, 2-4 feet; and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line, 2-4 feet.

  • The Alabama Gulf Coast, Mobile, Pensacola and Navarre Beach will be on the “good” west side of the circulation with an offshore flow. Winds could gust there to 45 mph, and rain should be less than 2 inches. There should be no risk of tornadoes and most likely not enough rain for flash flooding.
  • A flash flood watch is in effect for much of north Florida, southeast Alabama and south Georgia. Michael is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain through Friday for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods. Amounts expected for eastern Georgia, the Carolinas and southern Virginia are 3 to 6 inches.

  • A few tornadoes are possible Wednesday and Wednesday night over north Florida and south Georgia.
  • Double red flags are flying on the Gulf Coast; the water is closed because of rip currents.
  • Michael will move along quickly, and weather conditions will improve on the Gulf Coast by early Thursday. Sunshine returns Thursday, and the weather looks very nice Friday through Sunday, with sunny, pleasant days and fair, cool nights — perfect weather for the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

SOUTHEAST ALABAMA: Winds could gust to hurricane force over Geneva and Houston counties late Wednesday and Wednesday night, with potential for downed trees and power lines. Rain amounts of 3-5 inches are likely with potential for flash flooding. Winds could gust to 40 mph (tropical storm force) as far north as Greenville, Troy and Eufaula.

THURSDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND: The sky clears across Alabama Thursday. Any lingering showers over east Alabama will end early in the day. And, finally, much cooler air arrives with a high in the 70s. Look for lows in the 46- to 49-degree range early Friday morning, the coolest temperatures so far this season. The weather looks very nice Friday through the weekend with sunny, pleasant days and clear, cool nights. The highs will be in the low 70s Friday and Saturday, followed by upper 70s Sunday. A few showers could reach the state Sunday night ahead of another cold front.

NEXT WEEK: We will mention a risk of showers Monday as the front passes through, but moisture will be very limited, and rain amounts will be light. More cool, dry air flows into the state during the middle of the week.

RACE WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA: The weather looks fantastic Friday through Sunday, with sunny days and fair nights. Highs should be in the 70s, lows in the 40s and 50s. A few showers could arrive Sunday night well after the big race has ended.

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