Latest NOAA Tracker: Hurricane Michael Predicted in Gulf to Hit Florida Panhandle, Track Up East Coast as Tropical Storm

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast update predicts that a tropical storm developing near the Gulf of Mexico will reach hurricane strength Wednesday as Hurricane Michael, tracking almost due north on a path toward landfall in along the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a significant storm. Models show Hurricane Michael likely hitting along the Florida panhandle, though the Alabama coast is not out of the forecast cone of risk.

Hurricane Michael is predicted to hit the Gulf Coast with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (Category 2 or near Major Category 3 strength), according to Sunday 10 a.m. forecast update from the National Hurricane Center.

"Storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts are possible over portions of the northern Gulf Coast by mid-week, although it is too soon to specify the exact location and magnitude of these impacts," the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. "Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of this system."

A big problem concerning Michael is that its impact is forecast to be widespread across the Southeast, well beyond the Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center forecasts that as it moves inland as Tropical Storm Michael, the system will maintain some strength as it moves up through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and into Virginia with tropical storm winds of 50 miles per hour and flooding potential on a sort of nor'easter track. The National Hurricane Center model predicts Tropical Storm Michael will be in Virginia, near the coast, at 1 a.m. Friday next week.

Tropical Storm Michael Spaghetti Models
Michael will beome a hurricane and hit the northern Gulf Coast next week, according to the latest spaghetti models. The red line is the official National Hurricane Center forecast track. Other models include GFS and European runs. Michael's forecast path inland is northeast, through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, where the National Hurricane Center predicts it will still have tropical storm strength. stormvistawxmodels.com

With similarities to Hurricane Nate that developed last October in the same location and hit in Louisiana, near the mouth of the Mississippi River at Category 1 strength, Hurricane Michael is forecast to be a Category 1 storm when it hits, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. Hurricane strength is 74 miles per hour.

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast models track, likely to shift some as the storm approaches, show Hurricane Michael hitting the Florida panhandle somewhere between Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Panama City, Port Saint Joe, and Apalachicola on Wednesday.

The system, currently named Tropical Depression Fourteen, is expected to become Tropical Storm Michael later Sunday, beginning its northern path through the Gulf of Mexico toward landfall. The latest Michael/Tropical Depression Fourteen Spaghetti models are in agreement that Michael will hit the northern Gulf Coast, likely Wednesday, somewhere between Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. The official National Hurricane Center forecast track then takes Michael inland across southeastern Alabama and the Florida panhandle into Georgia late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning as a tropical storm, still packing winds of 50 miles per hour.

Tropical Depression Fourteen is currently located about 90 miles east of Chetumal, Mexico, moving slowly to the north-northwest with maximum winds of 35 miles per hour.

"The depression is producing heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of Central America, and these rains will spread over western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days," the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. "The depression is forecast to become a tropical storm later today, and tropical storm conditions are expected by tonight over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, where tropical storm warnings are in effect."

Hurricane Michael Path 2018
Hurricane Michael's path 2018 leads to landfall across the Florida panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 1 storm, according to the Sunday 10 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. NOAA