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Tropical Storm Barry Drops Heavy Rain Over Lower Mississippi River Valley

Tropical Storm Barry dropped heavy rain over parts of the Lower Mississippi River Valley on Sunday.  The wind speed gradually decreased as Barry moved farther inland on Sunday and it was classified as a tropical depression on Sunday evening.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Depression Barry was located at latitude 33.5°N and longitude 93.5°W which put it about 70 miles (110 km) north of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the north at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

Several rainbands in the southern and eastern portions of the circulation around former Tropical Storm Barry dropped persistent heavy rainfall on Sunday.  One rainband developed in an arc that ran from near Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas to near Alexandria, Louisiana.  A weather station in Beaumont/Port Arthur measured 4.21 inches (10.69 cm) of rain.  A second rainband stretched from south of Abbeville, Louisiana to west of Baton Rouge.  A weather station in Abbeville measured 4.29 inches (10.90 cm) of rain and a station in Lafayette recorded 3.68 inches (9.34 cm).  A third rainband dropped heavy rain over parts of Mississippi.  A weather station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi measured 4.06 inches (10.31 cm) of rain.  A fourth rainband dropped heavy rain over parts of western Alabama.

The center of Tropical Depression Barry is forecast to move north-northeast across Arkansas on Monday.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms in the eastern side of the circulation around Barry are likely to drop heavy rain over parts of Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, eastern Louisiana, western Alabama and western Tennessee on Monday.  Flash flooding could occur in some locations.

Tropical Storm Barry Brings Wind and Water to Central Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Barry brought wind and water to the central Gulf Coast on Saturday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located at latitude 31.0°N and longitude 93.0°W which put it about 35 miles (55 km) southwest of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the north-northwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were still in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle to Cameron, Louisiana, and for New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.  Several weather stations on the coast of Louisiana were still reporting sustained winds to tropical storm force on Saturday night.

Tropical Storm Barry strengthened into a hurricane prior to making landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana on Saturday afternoon.  Then an upper level ridge centered over Texas strengthened after Barry became a hurricane.  The ridge produced north-northeasterly winds at 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h) which blew over the top of former Hurricane Barry.  Those winds created strong vertical wind shear and they blew the top of the circulation south of the lower part of the circulation.  By Saturday night the lower level circulation was over southwestern Louisiana and the top of the circulation was over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  Since the lower part of the circulation did not extend as high in the atmosphere, rain near the center of Tropical Storm Barry was relatively light.  Heavier rain fell in bands on the eastern side of Barry.  Heavy rain caused localized flooding in the area around Mobile, Alabama and along the coast of Mississippi.

Tropical Storm Barry did cause minor wind damage over portions of southern Louisiana.  There were reports of downed trees and widespread power outages.  The wind pushed water toward the coast in the eastern half of the circulation and Barry generated a storm surge of 6 feet (2 meters) in several locations.  There was also a rise in the water level along the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to move northward over western Louisiana on Sunday.  The water level along the coast should gradually decrease while Barry moves farther inland and weakens.  Rainfall could increase in bands in the eastern side of the circulation on Sunday where the wind will transport moist air from the Gulf of Mexico over Louisiana and Mississippi.  Flash Flood Watches continue for parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Barry Strengthens Into a Hurricane Near the Louisiana Coast

Former Tropical Storm Barry strengthened into a hurricane on Saturday morning.  The National Hurricane Center designated Barry as a hurricane on Saturday morning based on data from surface weather stations and from reconnaissance aircraft.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Barry was located at latitude 29.6°N and longitude 92.0°W which put it about 40 miles (65 km) south of Lafayette, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, Louisiana. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Sabine Pass, Louisiana. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

Former Tropical Storm Barry strengthened on Saturday morning.  Many more thunderstorms developed just south and east of the center of circulation.  The pressure gradient tightened near the center of Hurricane Barry and the wind speeds increased to hurricane force.  The hurricane force winds were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center on the eastern side of Hurricane Barry.  The winds were weaker on the western side of Barry.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 170 miles (280 km) from the center.

Hurricane Barry is unlikely to strengthen significantly before the center moves over the coast of Louisiana.  Almost half of the circulation is over land.  The wind speeds will decrease gradually after the center moves over land.

Hurricane Barry will move around the western end of a ridge of high pressure.  The ridge will steer Barry slowly toward the northwest during the next few hours.  Barry will move more toward the north on Sunday.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Barry will make landfall southwest of Lafayette, Louisiana near Abbeville.  The center of Barry will move northward over western Louisiana on Sunday.

Hurricane Barry will cause mainly minor wind damage over the eastern half of Louisiana.  There also could be widespread power outages.  On the eastern side of Hurricane Barry southerly winds were pushing water toward the coast.  A storm surge of 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters) could occur just to the east of where the center makes landfall.  Southeasterly winds were causing flooding around the western side of Lake Pontchartrain.  Several bands in the eastern side of Hurricane Barry were dropping heavy rain.  Persistent heavy rain is likely to cause flooding in some locations.  Flash Flood Watches were in effect for parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Tropical Storm Barry Strengthens South of Louisiana

Tropical Storm Barry strengthened south of Louisiana on Friday morning.  Hurricane Hunters flying into Barry found that the maximum sustained wind speed had increased to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located at latitude 28.2°N and longitude 90.4°W which put it about 115 miles (185 km) south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 998 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, Louisiana. Hurricane Watches have been issued for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Barry exhibited greater organization on Friday morning.  Thunderstorms developed in a band around the southern side of the center of circulation.  More thunderstorms also formed in bands that stretched around the western, southern and eastern sides of the circulation.  Bands in the northern portion of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds, although there were some thunderstorms in the parts of those bands over land.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 170 miles (280 km) from the center of circulation.  Storms just south of the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the west of Tropical Storm Barry.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease and it was down to 998 mb on Friday morning.

Tropical Storm Barry will move through an environment that is some what favorable for intensification.  Barry will move south of a narrow upper level ridge that stretches from east Texas to south Alabama.  The ridge will produce northeasterly winds which will cause some vertical wind shear.  The shear is one of the reasons why there are fewer thunderstorms in the northern part of the circulation.  Reconnaissance aircraft reported that the middle level center was a little to the south of the surface center.  The tilt of the circulation with height is also the result of the vertical wind shear.  However, the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Storm Barry will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30.5°C.  It will extract a lot of energy from the Gulf of Mexico.  Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane during the next 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Barry is moving around the southwestern part of a ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge will steer Barry slowly toward the west-northwest during the next few hours.  Barry will turn more toward the northwest later on Friday.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Storm Barry will approach the coast of Louisiana late Friday night.  Barry is forecast to be a hurricane when it reaches the coast.  The broad circulation will cause mostly minor wind damage over a large area.  There could be widespread power outages.  Barry will also generate a storm surge of 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters near where the center makes landfall.  Tropical Storm Barry will drop heavy rain when it moves slowly inland.  Flooding is a serious risk, since soils are nearly saturated and many creeks and rivers are already high.

Tropical Storm Barry Threatens Louisiana

Tropical Storm Barry threatened Louisiana on Thursday.  A low pressure system formerly designated at Potential Tropical Cyclone Two strengthened into Tropical Storm Barry on Thursday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located at latitude 27.8°N and longitude 88.7°W which put it about 95 miles (150 km) south-southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi River and about 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the west at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1005 mb.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Cameron, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.  A Tropical Storm Watch has also been issued for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Barry exhibited more organization on Thursday morning, but there were not a lot of thunderstorms near the center of circulation.  Many of the thunderstorms were occurring in bands wrapping around the western and southern sides of the circulation.  Bands in the northern half of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Winds to tropical storm force were occurring in the southeastern part of Tropical Storm Barry.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center in that quadrant of Barry.  The winds were weaker in other quadrants of the circulation.

Tropical Storm Barry will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 36 hours.  Barry will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30.5°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Storm Barry will intensify slowly until more thunderstorms form near the center of circulation.  If thunderstorms consolidate around an inner core, then rapid intensification would be possible.  Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane on Friday.

Tropical Storm Barry will move around the southwestern part of a ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge is likely to steer Barry slowly toward the west during the next 12 to 24 hours.  Tropical Storm Barry will move more toward the northwest when it moves around the southwestern part of the ridge.  There is still some uncertainty about the timing and location of the turn toward the northwest.  Based on its anticipated track Tropical Storm Barry could approach the coast of Louisiana on Friday night.

Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall.  It will bring strong, gusty winds to coastal regions of Louisiana.  Those winds will also push a storm surge toward the coast.  The storm surge could be up to 6 to 8 feet (2 to 3 meters) near where the center makes landfall.  Tropical Storm Barry could drop heavy rain when it moves inland.  Many rivers and streams are already high and locally heavy rain could cause flooding in those locations.

NHC Initiates Advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Two

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) initiated advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Two on Wednesday morning.  NHC initiated the advisories in order to be able to issue watches for a portion of the coast of Louisiana.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Two was located at latitude 28.5°N and longitude 86.4°W which put it about 170 miles (270 km) east-southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi River.  It was moving toward the west-southwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1011 mb.  A Tropical Storm Watch was issued for the portion of the coast from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to Morgan City, Louisiana.

The circulation around Potential Tropical Cyclone Two was not well organized.  There was a large, but relatively weak circulation near the surface.  There was not a well defined center of circulation near the surface.  There was a stronger counterclockwise circulation between about 10,000 feet (3000 meters) and 25,000 feet (7600 meters) above the surface, which was located above the southwestern part of the surface circulation.  Many of the stronger thunderstorms were occurring in bands on the northern and western sides of the circulation above the surface.  There were fewer thunderstorms in the eastern side of the larger, surface circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will move through an environment very favorable for development and intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The system will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  It is likely that a center of circulation will form at the surface underneath the counterclockwise circulation above the surface.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will strengthen slowly until the surface center is underneath the center higher in the atmosphere.  After the circulation becomes aligned vertically, the system could strengthen more rapidly.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is likely to become a hurricane within 48 to 60 hours.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will move south of a ridge over the southeastern U.S.  The ridge will steer Potential Tropical Cyclone Two toward the southwest.  It will move more toward the west on Thursday and then turn back more toward the northwest on Friday when it nears the western end of the ridge.  There will be significant uncertainty about the future track of the system until a well defined center of circulation forms at the surface.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Two could approach the coast of Louisiana and northeast Texas on Friday.  Hurricane Watches and Warnings are likely to be issued for portions of the coast later this week.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Two presents a wide range of hazards.  It will bring hurricane force winds to portions of Louisiana and Texas and it will disrupt operations of offshore facilities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  After the center of the system moves west of New Orleans, southerly winds will force water into the Mouth of the Mississippi River.  The level of the Mississippi River around New Orleans is already near flood stage and any additional rise in the water level could cause serious flooding around the city.  If Potential Tropical Cyclone Two strengthens into a hurricane, as expected, it will cause a significant storm near where the center makes landfall.  The system also has the potential to drop heavy rain and flooding could occur when it moves inland.

Potential Tropical Development Over Northern Gulf of Mexico

The potential exists for the development of a tropical cyclone over the northern Gulf of Mexico this week.  A low pressure system was over Georgia on Monday afternoon.  The low was drifting slowly southward, but it was forecast to move more toward the south-southwest during the next two days.  Several numerical models were predicting that the low pressure system would strengthen into a tropical depression or a tropical storm after it moves over the northern Gulf of Mexico later this week.  The National Hurricane Center was indicating that the low pressure system, currently designated as Invest 92L, had a 30% probability of developing into a tropical cyclone during the next two days and an 80% probability of developing into a tropical cyclone during the next five days.

The low pressure system exhibited a surface circulation on Monday afternoon, but the wind speed was near 15 m.p.h. (25 km/h).  Bands of showers and thunderstorms formed during the daytime heating over land, but they weakened at night.  There was also a counterclockwise rotation in the lower and middle troposphere which may have been the remnants of a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV), which developed over the Middle Mississippi River Valley a few days ago.  The low was not generating upper level divergence on Monday afternoon.

If the low pressure system does move over the northern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday or Wednesday, it will move into an environment more favorable for the development of a tropical depression.  The Sea Surface Temperature of the water in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is near 30°C.  The low pressure system will move southeast of an upper level ridge over the southern U.S.  The ridge will produce northeasterly winds, but the winds will be relatively weak and the vertical wind shear will not be too strong.  More thunderstorms are likely to develop when the low pressure system moves over the warm water.  If those thunderstorms generate upper level divergence that pumps mass away, then the surface pressure will decrease and a tropical depression will form.

The upper level ridge is forecast to steer the low pressure system toward the west after it moves over the Gulf of Mexico later this week.  On its anticipated track the low pressure system will move slowly toward the coast of Louisiana and Texas.  The future intensity of the system will be determined by how far the system moves into the Gulf of Mexico.  If the low pressure system takes a track along or near the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico, then it will likely become a tropical depression or a weak tropical storm.  Even if the low only strengthens into a tropical depression, it could drop heavy rain and the potential for flooding exists along the northern Gulf Coast.  If the low pressure system moves farther out into the Gulf of Mexico and remains over warm water for a longer period, then it might intensify into a hurricane.  Residents along the Gulf Coast should monitor this system carefully.

Powerful Hurricane Michael Nearing North Florida

Powerful hurricane Michael was nearing north Florida on Wednesday morning.  Michael intensified rapidly to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale during the overnight hours.  At 8:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Michael was located at latitude 29.0°N and longitude 86.3°W which put it about 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida.  Michael was moving toward the north at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 145 m.p.h. (230 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 170 m.p.h. (275 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 933 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portions of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to the Alabama-Mississippi border and from Suwanee River to Chassahowitzka, Florida.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the Atlantic Coast from Fernandina Beach, Florida to Surf City, North Carolina.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portions of the coast from the Alabama-Mississippi border to the Mouth of the Pearl River and from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, Florida.  A Tropical Storm Watch was also in effect from Surf City to Duck, North Carolina including Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Hurricane Michael intensified rapidly during the past 12 hours.  An eye with a diameter of 20 miles (32 km) is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms.  The strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Storms near the core of Hurricane Michael are generating strong upper level divergence which is pumping large quantities of mass away from the hurricane.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease rapidly to 933 mb.

Winds to hurricane force extend out about 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) from the center of Hurricane Michael.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 185 miles (290 km) from the center of circulation.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Michael is 29.9.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 16.1 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 46.0.  Hurricane Michael is capable of causing regional significant damage.

Hurricane Michael is stronger than any other hurricane to hit north Florida in the historical record.  Michael is similar in intensity to what Hurricane Charley was when Charley hit southwest Florida in 2004.  Hurricane Michael is bigger than Charley was in 2004.

An upper level trough over the Central U.S. and a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean are combining to steer Hurricane Michael toward the north.  The trough will turn Michael toward the northeast when it reaches the coast.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Michael will make landfall near Panama City and Port St. Joe, Florida in about six hours.

Hurricane Michael will bring destructive winds to the coast of north Florida.  The strongest winds will be near the center and east of the center.  Those winds will push water toward the coast and a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) will occur east of where the center of Michael makes landfall.  The coast of the northeast Gulf of Mexico is very vulnerable to storm surges and significant damage will occur.

The center of Hurricane Michael will move between Dothan, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida.  It will pass near Albany, Georgia and then move south of Macon, Georgia.  The center of Michael could move near Columbia, South Carolina and then it could exit the East Coast of the U.S. near Norfolk, Virginia.

Michael will bring hurricane force winds to northeast Florida, extreme southeast Alabama and southern Georgia.  There will be widespread power outages.  Winds to tropical storm force will occur in South Carolina and North Carolina.  Hurricane Michael will drop locally heavy rain when it moves inland.  The wind and rain will disrupt efforts to recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Michael Strengthens to a Major Hurricane

Hurricane Michael strengthened into a major hurricane on Tuesday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Michael was located at latitude 26.0°N and longitude 86.4°W which put it about 290 miles (470 km) south of Panama City, Florida.  Michael was moving toward the north at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 140 m.p.h. (225 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 957 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwanee River, Florida.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to the Alabama-Mississippi border, from Suwanee River to Chassahowitzka, Florida and from Fernandina Beach, Florida to South Santee River, South Carolina on the Atlantic Coast.  Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Alabama-Mississippi border to the Mouth of the Pearl River, from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, Florida and from South Santee, River South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina including Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

The inner core of Hurricane Michael tightened on Tuesday afternoon.  The diameter of the eye decreased from 30 miles (50 km) to 22 miles (35 km).  The ring of thunderstorms around the eye tightened around the smaller eye and the strongest winds were closer to the center of circulation.  Storms around the core of Michael were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease from 965 mb to 957 mb during the past six hours.

Winds to hurricane force extend out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of Hurricane Michael.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 170 miles (280 km) from the center of circulation.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Michael is 22.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 14.6 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 36.7.  Hurricane Michael is capable of causing regional major damage.

Hurricane Michael will move through an environment favorable for intensification for another 12 to 18 hours.  Michael will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level trough over the Central U.S. is producing westerly winds which are blowing toward the top of Hurricane Michael, but those winds are not causing enough vertical wind shear to prevent intensification.  Hurricane Michael could intensify to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before it makes landfall.

Hurricane Michael is moving between a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean and the upper level trough over the Central U.S.  Those two weather systems are steering Michael toward the north and that general motion is expected to continue for another 12 hours.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Michael will make landfall near Panama City and Port St. Joe, Florida early on Wednesday afternoon.  The upper level trough will steer Michael more toward the northeast after it makes landfall.  The center of Michael is likely to move between Dothan, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida and it could pass near Albany, Georgia.

Hurricane Michael will bring strong winds to northwest Florida, extreme southeast Alabama and southern Georgia.  There will be wind damage and widespread power outages could occur.  The coast of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is very vulnerable to storm surges.  Hurricane Michael will produce a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) at some points along the coast.  Michael will drop locally heavy rain.  Although Hurricane Michael will weaken when it moves inland, it will bring gusty winds and heavy rain to South Carolina and North Carolina.  Hurricane Michael will hinder efforts in those states to recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

Michael Strengthens Into a Hurricane, Watches Issued for Gulf Coast

Former Tropical Storm Michael strengthened into a hurricane on Monday morning and Watches were issued for portions of the Gulf Coast.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Michael was located at latitude 21.2°N and longitude 84.9°W which put it about 50 miles (80 km) south of the western end of Cuba.  Michael was moving toward the north at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 982 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portions of the coast from the Alabama-Florida border to the Alabama-Mississippi border and from Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island, Florida.  A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Cuban province of Isle of Youth and for the portion of the coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, Mexico.

Hurricane Michael continued to organize quickly.  A circular eye with a diameter of about 30 miles (50 km) was forming at the center of Michael.  A ring of strong thunderstorms was wrapping around the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in the ring of storms.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were wrapping around the core of Hurricane Michael.  Storms near the core were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane.

Winds to hurricane force extended out about 30 miles (50 km) primarily to the northeast of the center of Hurricane Michael.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 175 miles (280 km) from the center of circulation.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Michael was 10.4.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 6.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 17.2.

Hurricane Michael will move into an environment that will become increasingly favorable for intensification.  Michael will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level trough over the Gulf of Mexico was producing westerly winds which were blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds were causing some vertical wind shear.  However, the upper level trough will move westward away from Hurricane Michael and the wind shear will decrease.  Hurricane Michael will continue to strengthen when it moves over the Gulf of Mexico and it could intensify rapidly once the eye and eyewall are fully formed.  Hurricane Michael is likely to strengthen into a major hurricane.

Hurricane Michael will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system centered over the western Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Michael in a northerly direction during the next several days.  It will get bigger and stronger during the next 48 hours.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Michael will approach the northeast coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.  It is likely to be a major hurricane at that time.  Hurricane Michael has the potential to cause a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) at the coast.  It will bring strong winds which could cause regional major damage and result in significant power outages.  Locally heavy rain could cause flooding in some locations.