All eyes on the Gulf Coast

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Main threats

No significant threats in sight.

Summary

Today, we’ll see partly to mostly cloudy skies and only a slight chance for an isolated shower. The sky has been absolutely beautiful this morning with these tropical-like clouds. I have pictures at the bottom of this blog that I took this morning.

Rain begins moving in tonight and those rain chances will continue right on through Thursday. We have a very strong cold front moving our way and that will keep us in the rain chances for a couple of days. I no longer expect much in the way of thunderstorm activity. It just looks like some good rain showers with isolated downpours that may contain thunder.

Once the front clears, our summer-like weather will go with it. Look at those nice high temperatures the end of the week! That 40-degree Friday night low temperature may be a degree or two cooler than we will actually be (you all probably notice I round off highs and lows) but we could be darn close to it! I know many of you are more than ready for that!

Tropics

Hurricane Michael is a concern, folks. Thankfully, it will have little to no impact on our weather but that is certainly not the case for folks along the Gulf Coast. Michael currently has maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, with higher gusts. The storm is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane today. Hurricane warnings are now in effect for the entire Florida Panhandle.

Michael has been an odd one and that always makes us uncomfortable. In spite of being in rather hostile conditions for development, he has had little trouble becoming a cat 2 storm. Forecasters will be watching nervously today as conditions actually become favorable for him. One can’t help but wonder how much he will explode now that things are actually favorable for that.

I’ve heard hurricane hunters use the word “unusual” to describe Michael a lot over the past 24 hours. If you remember, several days ago Michael was never supposed to be that big of deal; models indicated that conditions would be too hostile for significant development. But, Michael had other ideas and he’s just one of those odd storms that meteorologists will write papers on someday.

Michael is eerily similar to Hurricane Opal in 1995. That storm’s anniversary was just last week. That storm took about the same path Michael is taking and exploded overnight into a cat 4 (almost hit cat 5). In addition, Opal sped up. That was a scary storm. Thankfully, Opal weakened to a low-end cat 3 just before making landfall. Unfortunately, that part of the Gulf Coast is extremely susceptible to storm surge, and Opal was absolutely devastating to areas around Destin.

I’m always harping on how it’s the water and not the wind that kills people and does the most damage. Michael is no exception to that. However, with his fast forward speed his wind threat will be greater than with most tropical systems. This means he will still be a wind machine as he traverses southern Georgia, which will snap those Georgia pines like toothpicks. After living in Mississippi for several years, I can attest to the snapping capabilities of those reaching-for-the-sky tall southern pines!

It will be interesting to see what Michael does today. I’ll keep you posted.

Below is a map showing hurricane warnings in red, tropical storm warnings in yellow. Notice the storm will still bring tropical storm conditions to the southeast coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. The orange shading you see around Michael is how far out tropical-storm force winds reach. The dark reddish color in the center is hurricane-force wind coverage. Both will expand today.

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This is a map showing the earliest arrival times of winds.

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This is a message put out by the National Hurricane Center.

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And this is forecast rainfall totals. Notice the plateau gets missed, but areas still cleaning up from Florence in the Carolinas will have to deal with Michael.

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This is weatherTAP’s map, showing all the warnings. It was not a good week to head to the beach for fall break.

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Below is Hurricane Michael, trying his best to get a clear eye developed in the middle. If you can’t see this movie, I’m including a still image below this.

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Records

We’ve seen our fair share of warm fall days around here. On this date in 1980 we hit 83 degrees for a high temperature. Nashville hit 91 and broke an October record high temperature. That heat wave would continue for several days, setting and breaking records all across Tennessee, as highs flirted with 90 degrees.

News

I’ll keep you posted on Michael today. Let’s just hope and pray no one gets hurt in this storm or gets hurt trying to get away from the beaches.

You all have a great day. Here are some cloud pics I took this morning. It sure was a beautiful sky!

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