MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a powerful Category Four hurricane, with maximum sustained wind of 130 miles per hour. Additional strengthening is likely. The storm is moving north quickly, and will gradually curve towards the northeast.
Michael is expected to make landfall as a Category Four hurricane near Panama City Beach later today. There, along the Florida coast, the impacts will be severe - storm surge in excess of 10 feet, destructive wind, flooding rain and isolated tornadoes.
The storm will quickly move northward, with the eye passing just southeast of the southeast tip of Alabama. This means that the impacts will vary GREATLY across our area.
In far southeast Alabama and the Wiregrass, including Dothan, Geneva, Abbeville, Samson, Kinston, Ozark, Elba, Enterprise, destructive wind will likely create power outages and tree damage. Heavy rain will fall, and we can’t rule out a few pockets of isolated flash flooding.
For the rest of south and southeast Alabama, including Auburn, Troy, Eufaula, Brundidge, Luverne, Andalusia, Opp, Union Springs and Phenix City, strong wind could cause isolated power outages, but widespread damage isn’t expected. Flooding is unlikely.
For central and west Alabama, including Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook, Tallassee, Alex City, Wetumpka, Marion, Selma, Demopolis, Linden, we expect breezy conditions and some intervals of rain. Damage and power outages are unlikely.
Tornadoes are rather unlikely, but we can’t completely rule out a renegade spin-up inside an outer band. The more significant tornado risk will be east of the center, but tornadoes can occasionally form on the northern side of the circulation, too. We saw this with Nate back in October of last year, when a tornado from a northern outer band struck Autaugaville.
It’s important to note that even subtle shifts in the track could cause us to adjust our expectations. It’s vital that you stay in contact with the freshest weather information.