At mid-afternoon, satellite loops show a developing Hurricane, although an eye has yet to become apparent. It should only be a matter of time as Michael is passing just to the west of Cuba keeping his center of circulation over open water. The SE Gulf has some of the warmest waters and NHC brings Michael to major hurricane strength (Cat. 3) on Tuesday. I see nothing that would cause Michael to change course and back him farther to the west. The main threats are focused on the Florida panhandle from Pensacola eastward down to Tarpon Springs. All of Florida’s west coast should be on full alert in case Michael turns to the NE sooner than expected. At 1 PM, he was centered at 85.1 degree west longitude moving due north at 7 mph. This is an increase in forward speed and should mean NHC might issue Hurricane Warnings on their 4 PM update. A Storm Surge Watch goes all the way down to the southern end of Tampa Bay, although the greatest surge threat should be up over the Big Bend of Florida. Tallahassee is just to the east of the center line forecast track and they are likely to receive quite a blow similar to Hurricane Kate back in November of 1985. There remain many questions regarding Michael. Will he become a major (Cat. 3+) storm? Will the center line track keep trending to the east? Or begin trending back to the west? If he accelerates to the NE, will the heavy rain threat diminish? Or, will he continue on a slow, steady path that will increase the heavy rain potential? I don’t expect to post again until tonight, unless the 4 PM NHC update has some surprises. For now, this remains a Florida hurricane threat. Stay tuned!
In addition, really colder air (30s & 40s) covers the Rockies and Central Plains. As Michael passes by on Wednesday, some of that chill will plunge down over us for Thursday into the weekend. It will require some of us to bring out the sweaters! Especially at night.