TUESDAY MORNING 8 AM UPDATE 10/9/18
Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph moving NNW through the Gulf. Additional strengthening is forecast and Michael is still expected to be a major Category 3 hurricane upon landfall tomorrow along the Florida panhandle.
TUESDAY MORNING 5AM UPDATE 10/9/18
Hurricane Michael is holding steady as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph. Additional strengthening is expected today as Michael moves NNW through the Gulf, and Michael is expected to be a major Category 3 hurricane before landfall tomorrow in the panhandle. Dangerous storm surge and damaging winds are expected in the Hurricane Warning starting tomorrow. Impacts to SWFL are still expected to be limited in just an elevated rain chance and breezy southeast winds.
MONDAY EVENING 11PM UPDATE 10/8/18
Michael continues to strengthen with winds of 90 mph. The inner core of the storm is becoming more organized and it will likely reach Category 2 status by Tuesday. Wind shear will lessen over the storm and this combined with very warm water temperatures over the Gulf will create an environment favorable for more strengthening. The NHC forecast track has shifted east, with the cone of uncertainty now out of the Pensacola area as a turn toward the northeast is expected as it approaches the coast. Life-threatening and significant storm surge is expected for the Florida Big Bend on Wednesday as the storm approaches.
MONDAY EVENING 8PM UPDATE 10/8/18
Hurricane hunters continue to indicate that Michael is strengthening with winds of 85 mph and the pressure is down to 970 mb. The storm is looking more organized on satellite with thunderstorms now trying to wrap around the center with an eyewall attempting to close off. Once this occurs this will allow the storm to intensify more rapidly.
MONDAY EARLY EVENING UPDATE 10/8/18
Hurricane Michael continues to strengthen as of Monday afternoon and evening winds are now up to 80 mph and the satellite presentation looks much more impressive, with an expansive outflow aloft in almost all quadrants of the storm (exhaust) and thunderstorms firing up and wrapping around the center, known as "hot towers". The pressure has dropped through the afternoon and winds will increase accordingly by tonight into Tuesday. The threat for a major landfalling hurricane along the Florida Panhandle coast is increasing and preparations need to be rushed to completion. A significant and life-threatening storm surge is expected for the Florida Big Bend and parts of the Panhandle as the storm approaches the coast Tuesday night into Wednesday. The potential also exists for storm surge over 10 feet across parts of the Forgotten Coast into the Big Bend. Tropical Storm Watches are now in effect as far south as the Tampa Bay Metro area. Over a foot of rainfall will be possible across parts of the Panhandle and the threat exists for isolated tornadoes in the outer bands rotating around the storm across central and north Florida. Michael's wind field is large so impacts will be felt well away from the center. The forecast tracks have shifted a bit west and are now centered from Pensacola eastward to Panama City for a possible landfall. These west and east shifts will continue to occur through Wednesday but it is almost certain we will see a landfall somewhere in northwest Florida.
MONDAY 11:00 AM UPDATE 10/8/18
Michael has strengthened to a hurricane with winds of 75 mph moving north into the southern Gulf of Mexico. Additional strengthening is forecast and Michael is expected to increase to a major Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday night while moving through the Gulf. Landfall is still forecast along the Florida panhandle or big bend region Wednesday. Impacts to SWFL will be minimal, mainly increased cloud cover and rain chances with breezy winds through midweek.
MONDAY 5:00 AM UPDATE 10/8/18
Tropical Storm Michael continues to strengthen in the Caribbean with winds now to 70 mph. Additional strengthening is forecast today and Michael is forecast to become a hurricane by tonight as it enters the Gulf. Michael is currently moving north at 7 mph and is located between the Yucatan peninsula and western Cuba this morning. Michael is expected to move into the southern Gulf of Mexico later today and continue northward through midweek before making landfall along the Florida panhandle late Wednesday. Hurricane watches have been issued for the panhandle with a Tropical Storm Watch in place as far south as coastal Manatee County. Michael is not expected to impact SWFL directly, but we will see enhanced rain chances and cloud cover through the middle of the week.
SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE 10/7/18
Tropical Storm Michael is strengthening over the Caribbean this evening. It will be heading into the Gulf by Monday where steady strengthening will occur up until landfall sometime Wednesday. The forecast track has changed little, with an expected landfall sometime on Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle coast, possibly as a Category 2 hurricane. Expected wind shear and water temperatures do support strengthening, and more rapid intensification is possible. The storm is expected to begin turning toward the northeast as it approaches the coast. The strength of the storm and the forward speed will determine how for east the storm will make landfall along the coast. A faster, weaker storm will make landfall farther west closer to Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach and Destin. A slower storm that has more time to strengthen will be more influenced by an upper level trough moving in from the west and this will cause the storm to make a turn to the northeast as it approaches the coast, putting places like St. George Island and Apalachicola to Cedar Key more in line for a potential landfall. A storm track just to the west of the Big Bend will create a significant storm surge.
Potential impacts to SWFL remain unchanged. There is the possibility of a few rotating storms in some of the outer bands Monday and Tuesday east of the center across SWFL, therefore there is a low-end risk for tornadoes. Also, high surf at the beaches, higher than normal tides and gusty winds will be possible, but shouldn't get any worse than that. We'll keep you updated.
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY
SUNDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE 10/7/18
Tropical Storm Michael has formed near the Yucatan Peninsula and will move north into the Gulf through Monday. Strengthening is expected and it could become a hurricane by Tuesday as it approaches the Florida Panhandle coast. Hurricane Watches will likely be issued by tonight for parts of the Florida Panhandle through the Alabama Gulf Coast. No changes in the expected impact on SWFL. Increased cloud cover through Tuesday, cooler temps and an increased chance for rain, rip currents and surf at the beaches.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE 10/7/18
Tropical Depression #14 has formed in the Caribbean and will move northward into the Gulf by Monday. The storm is expected to strengthen into a minimal hurricane before making landfall sometime on Wednesday along the northern Gulf Coast, with the most likely area being the Florida Panhandle from Pensacola to Panama City. There is a chance we could see more rapid intensification, and soon-to-be Michael could end up stronger than currently forecast depending on wind shear, its forward speed and Gulf sea surface temperatures. The storm does NOT look like it will be a direct threat to South Florida as the track will remain well to our west. All interests in the Florida Panhandle need to pay close attention to the track of the storm through early this week.
SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE 10/6/18
New advisory is now up for Potential Tropical Cyclone # 14 in the Caribbean. This system is expected to strengthen and become Tropical Storm Michael either Sunday or sometime early this week. It is moving northward and will enter the Gulf by Monday with a track toward the northern Gulf Coast from Alabama to the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday. There is the potential for it to reach hurricane status before landfall if wind shear can remain low enough to allow for more aggressive strengthening.
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY
SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE 10/6/18
After a break in the wake of Florence, we could be looking at our next tropical system that will form in the Gulf early this week. An area of disturbed weather near Honduras will slowly organize over the weekend. Right now there is still a fair amount of wind shear over the system and this will be unfavorable for any further organization this weekend. However, the shear is expected to lessen some as it moves into the Gulf next week, allowing for the potential for further development.
The latest computer model forecasts suggest that the storm will strengthen into our next named storm (Michael) this week as it moves northward toward the northern Gulf Coast. A strong high-pressure ridge off the Atlantic coast will steer the storm northward toward an area between the Alabama Gulf Coast and the Florida Big Bend by the second half of the week. Most of the models keep the intensity in the tropical storm range, with some bringing it up to low-end Category 1 status. The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than average this year so the system will have plenty of warm water to take advantage of once it crosses the Gulf. The strength of the wind shear will be a factor in determining the eventual strength, as a highly sheared storm have a hard time organizing, regardless of the water temperatures.
Either way, the storm at this time looks like it will stay far enough away from SWFL into the Gulf for us to avoid any significant impacts, aside from increased surf at the beaches, higher than normal tides, more cloud cover and a better chance for rain by the middle of the week. Any track further east would increase impacts to our area, so stay tuned. We'll keep you updated on the latest!
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY