James Spann: Dangerous Hurricane Michael heads for Florida coast; cooler air in Alabama Thursday

James Spann has the latest on Michael and the potential Alabama impact from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

EYES ON MICHAEL: Alabama’s weather won’t change much today; high clouds will increase ahead of Hurricane Michael in the Gulf of Mexico, and a few scattered showers will develop today and tonight, but nothing especially widespread. We reach the low to mid 80s this afternoon; the average high for Oct. 9 at Birmingham is 77.

Showers will be more numerous tomorrow as Michael moves inland, but rain amounts over much of north and central Alabama will be fairly light — less than one-half inch for most places. Winds will be less than 20 mph for the northern half of the state as the main impact comes across southeast Alabama.

MICHAEL THIS MORNING: Michael strengthened to a category two hurricane this morning with sustained winds of 100 mph in the Gulf of Mexico. More strengthening is expected today, and Michael is expected to become a dangerous category three hurricane tonight. Landfall is forecast tomorrow on the Florida coast near or just east of Panama City Beach.

  • A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida. Everyone in these areas should prepare for life-threatening winds associated with the core of Michael. Damaging winds will also extend inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland.
  • A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to Anclote River, Florida. Life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend and Nature Coast. Residents in these areas should follow all advice given by their local officials.

  • Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.
  • Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of Georgia and South Carolina.

  • A few tornadoes are possible tomorrow and tomorrow night across parts of north Florida and south Georgia.
  • The Alabama Gulf Coast and Pensacola/Navarre will be on the “good” west side of the circulation. Winds could gust to 45 mph tomorrow and tomorrow night there, but there will be no storm surge issues, no tornado threat and no structural damage. Rain amounts in these areas should be less than 2 inches, in some places less than 1 inch. However, dangerous rip currents are likely through tomorrow night.
  • The main impact in Alabama will come over the southeast part of the state. Houston and Geneva counties are under a hurricane warning; winds there could gust to 75 mph, potentially knocking down many trees and power lines. Tropical storm force winds (39 mph or higher) are possible as far north as Greenville, Troy and Eufaula. Rain amounts of 4-6 inches are possible over the southeast corner of the state; a flash flood watch is in effect.
  • Michael will not stall; it will move along at a good pace. So the weather improves greatly on the Gulf Coast Thursday with sunshine returning. The weather there will be beautiful Thursday through the weekend with sunny days and fair nights, perfect conditions for the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.
  • We still encourage you to watch for any potential forecast changes over the next 24 hours as Micheal gets closer to the coast.

COOL CHANGE: For Alabama, any lingering showers will end early Thursday morning, and we will forecast a clearing sky and a big change to cooler temperatures, with highs only in the low 70s. Then, we are forecasting delightful weather Friday through the weekend with sunny, pleasant days and clear, cool nights. Many places will visit the 40s early Friday and Saturday morning; the high be near 70 Friday, followed by low 70s Saturday and upper 70s Sunday.

Showers are possible Sunday night and Monday with a cold front; moisture will be limited, and rain amounts should be light. Then, another shot of cooler air blows into the Deep South by Tuesday.

RACE WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA: Beautiful weather for the big weekend; look for sunny, pleasant days and fair, cool nights Friday through Sunday, with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 40s and low 50s. It now looks like showers associated with the next cold front will hold off until Sunday night or Monday.

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