Hurricane Michael just made landfall along the Florida panhandle and it’s packing much more of a punch than most assumed it would when warnings about its arrival began to spread about a week ago. At the time, the then-tropical-storm wasn’t expected to achieve its current Category 4 status, but now that it’s here, it’s time to batten down the hatches.
The Weather Channel warns of “catastrophic storm surge” and incredibly high speed winds associated with the storm. Sustained winds have been measured at up to 155 miles per hour, which is at the extreme upper limit of what weather experts expect from a Category 4 storm.
As with most large hurricanes, the National Weather Service has issued a whole list of watches and warnings associated with the storm, including severe thunderstorm alerts and tornado watches. Flash flooding is also expected to be a major concern as the storm continues to push inland.
The storm surge, which is the elevated sea level around the storm itself that pushes onto land as the hurricane makes landfall, has spread from the panhandle down the Florida peninsula, reaching as far as Tampa. Surges of as high as 14 feet are expected around where Michael made landfall near Apalachicola, Florida.
In the hours and days ahead, the storm is expected to take a largely easterly course, pushing up through Georgia and the Carolinas before eventually making its way back out to sea sometime after Thursday evening. Widespread power outages are expected to stretch from parts of the Florida panhandle up through Georgia as well as the Carolinas, but anyone within reach of the storm’s rapid winds should be prepared to be without power at some point over the next few days.