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As of 11 AM EDT (10 AM CDT) Wednesday, Hurricane Michael was located at 29.4N 86.0W, 60 miles SSW of Panama City, FL, moving NNE at 14 mph. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 145 mph, gusting to 175 mph.

An updated summary of the Watches and Warnings is at the end of this post.

RaceWeather note – The rain is forecast to move past Talladega on Thursday, leaving Friday sunny, though Talladega Blvd could be muddy because rainfall totals could reach up to 2”. The RaceWeather site will be updated later tonight.

Michael will continue on a northerly track through landfall near Panama City, FL later this afternoon. Storm surge is forecast to reach 12-14 feet in places. Rainfall totals of 6-10” are expected along the storm track as it accelerates across the Southeast US.

As Michael moves across the Atlantic coast, Michael is expected to interact with an advancing cold front, bringing about extratropical transition with it moving into North Atlantic.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida to Anclote River Florida

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Anclote River Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including
Tampa Bay
* Ocracoke Inlet North Carolina to Duck North Carolina

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River Florida

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border
* Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida
* North of Fernandina Beach Florida to Duck North Carolina
* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay

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At 11 AM EDT, Hurricane Maria was located 320 miles east of Nassau, Bahamas, moving north-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph. Maria is now a major hurricane as it bears down on the Leeward Islands

The current National Hurricane Center (NHC) 5-day forecast looks conservative, though they are likely waiting for the afternoon forecast models to update. The most recent ensemble models (from earlier this morning) have Maria going further west than a few days ago. This is because of the recent demise of Jose, which is allowing the ridge over the central Atlantic to build west. This will yield a track with a closer approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A ridge extending the southeast U.S. will also retreat north. These factors will converge, leading to slower forward motion by mid-week. By midweek, a strong low pressure system is expected to build across the Plains. First, it will provide some relief to the above normal temps across the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, it will steer Maria away from the coast, ushering in its extratropical transition.

Regarding intensification, conditions remain moderately favorable with warm sea surface temps and generally favorable winds aloft. However, Maria will begin to encounter increasing vertical wind shear and cool sea surface temperature. Maria is expected to intensify through tomorrow with a gradual weakening trend forecast into next week.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

None

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At 11:00 AM EDT, Hurricane Irma was located at 25.0°N 81.5°W, about 80 miles south-southeast of Naples, FL. Irma was moving north (350°) at 9 mph. Max sustained winds have dropped to 120 mph and the minimum central pressure in 933 mb (27.79 in Hg).

Before I start the forecast discussion, I’ll preface it with this…Right now, any changes in the forecast are not going to matter all that much. Just prepare for the worst and if it’s anything less, you’re lucky. Please remember that this storm is not just a line and impacts will span the state for Florida.

The 2nd landfall is expected to be near Sanibel Island on Sunday evening. The eye of the storm is expected to move up the west coast through the evening hours, finally exiting the state Monday afternoon.

The NHC has maintained their track, which is consistent with this afternoon’s forecast models. This is in line with the midday European model and between the recent GFS and NAM model runs. It is expected to move across the Tampa area as a Category 3 hurricane.

Rainfall totals across the swath covered by Irma are expected to be in the 10-15 inch range, with your obligatory isolated higher totals, approaching 20 inches.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River southward to Jupiter Inlet
* North Miami Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to the Ochlockonee River
* Florida Keys
* Tampa Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to Indian Pass
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Cuban provinces of Matanzas and La Habana

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* North of Fernandina Beach to Edisto Beach

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* West of Indian Pass to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line
* North of Fernandina Beach to South Santee River

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Bimini and Grand Bahama

Points of Interest:
Tampa & Polk Co (Lakeland) – Conversely, the westerly shift in the track a lot of pressure to this area. A protracted amount of time with hurricane force winds, likely 95-105 mph. Surge also becomes an issue on the north side of Tampa Bay, and will be compounded by heavy rainfall.

Orlando – At this time, It is likely that the eye of Irma will pass west of this area. Winds are expected to be in excess of 70 mph at this time.

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