James Spann: Michael nearing landfall; cooler days ahead for Alabama

James Spann has the Alabama forecast for midweek and Michael from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

MICHAEL NOW A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE: Overnight Michael strengthened into a dangerous, life-threatening category four hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 140 mph. Landfall comes around midday today near Panama City Beach.

  • A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida. Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area along the U.S. Gulf Coast today, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin during the next few hours. Hurricane conditions will also spread well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia. The hurricane warning includes four counties in southeast Alabama — Houston, Geneva, Dale and Henry. Winds could gust to over 70 mph in these four counties this afternoon and tonight.
  • A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for southeast Alabama as far north as Evergreen, Greenville, Luvurne, Troy and Phenix City. Winds in these areas could gust to 40-50 mph at times late this afternoon and tonight.

  • A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton county line 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 along the Florida coast if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide: Tyndall Air Force Base to Keaton Beach, 9-13 feet; Okaloosa/Walton county line to Tyndall Air Force Base, 6-9 feet; Keaton Beach  to Cedar Key, 6-9 feet; Cedar Key to Chassahowitzka, 4-6 feet; and Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, 2-4 feet.
  • The Alabama Gulf Coast, Mobile and Pensacola will be on the “good” west side of the system. They should see rain amounts of less than 2 inches, no tornado threat and no storm surge flooding.
  • Rain amounts of 5 inches are possible across the southeast tip of Alabama today with some flooding potential. Thankfully, Michael will be moving along at a good clip; the hurricane will not stall like Florence.
  • A few tornadoes are possible later today and tonight across north Florida and south Georgia, on the right side of the circulation of Michael.
  • Sunshine returns to the Gulf Coast tomorrow, and the weather will be perfect for the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores this weekend with sunny, pleasant days and fair, cool nights.

IMPACT FOR NORTH/CENTRAL ALABAMA: Michael will have little impact for the northern half of Alabama. Occasional, light showers are likely today; most communities will see rain amounts of one-half inch or less. There’s no risk of severe storms, and winds will be under 20 mph.

COOL CHANGE: Sunshine returns tomorrow, and a north wind of 10-20 mph will usher in the coolest air so far this season; the high will be in the 70s. By Friday morning, we expect a low in the mid to upper 40s over the northern half of the state. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will feature delightful fall weather with sunny, pleasant days and clear, cool nights. The high Saturday will be in the low 70s. Sunday will be a bit warmer, with an afternoon high not too far from 80, perfect weather for race weekend at Talladega.

NEXT WEEK: A few showers are possible Sunday night or Monday with a cold front, but moisture will be very limited and rain amounts very light. More cool air rolls in for the first half of the week.

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