Michael strengthens overnight, near hurricane strength

Hurricane Central

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCBD) – Michael rapidly intensified Sunday night as it nears hurricane strength. The storm has 70 mph winds as of the 5 AM update. The newest forecast from the National Hurricane Center show Michael becoming a hurricane on Monday then continuing to intensify to just shy of a category 3 storm before it makes landfall along the Florida panhandle on Wednesday.

The track shifted slightly west overnight, keeping the Lowcountry on the eastern side of the storm as it moves across the Southeastern US late this week. There’s also been a bit of a slow down as the models differ on the timing of the storm. Michael is now expected to impact the Lowcountry Wednesday into late Thursday.

As of Monday morning, the one impact that looks likely is rain. We are expecting 3″-5″ of rain in the Lowcountry with some locally higher amount. We are already in a higher than normal high tide cycle so the rainfall likely compounds our coastal flooding issues on Wednesday and Thursday as well.

Our potential to get tropical storm force winds is highly dependent on the track the center of the storm takes. A track further to the west, decreases our chance for strong winds, but a track further east would bring the potential for some strong tropical storm force winds. Tropical storm force winds are possible as early as Wednesday afternoon in the Lowcountry.

An isolated tornado threat is also there for Thursday, but again, is highly dependent on the track. If the center tracks closer to the Lowcountry that would increase our tornadic potential, mainly during the day on Thursday.

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