Hurricane Michael strengthens to a dangerous Cat 3
Hurricane Michael has sent some thunderstorms, gusty winds and minor flooding to the Mississippi Coast as it barrels toward the Florida panhandle, where forecasters say it is likely to make landfall Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane on the region’s sugar-white beaches.
The National Weather Service is maintaining a coastal flood advisory and a small craft advisory on the Mississippi Coast and in southeast Louisiana through Thursday morning.
A tropical storm watch also remains in effect for Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties. The region can expect winds of 10 to 20 mph with gusts in excess of 40 mph, the weather service says. But winds as high as 57 mph are possible.
The Coast also can expect scattered to numerous thunderstorms — including brief but heavy downpours — with some lightning.
Michael reached Category 3 strength on Tuesday afternoon. The weather service says additional strengthening is likely before landfall.
The storm was moving north at 12 mph at about 295 miles south of Panama City, Fla., and about 270 miles south/southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, the weather service said In its 4 p.m. Tuesday update.
Minor flooding begins
Waters began to rise along shorelines across the Mississippi Coast on Tuesday, as the large storm pushed tide levels 1 to 2 feet above normal.
Harrison County was experiencing flooding around Henderson Point and continued flooding around Cedar Lake Road at the Cedar Lake Bridge in Biloxi.
Many streets flooded in Hancock County, where there is typically the highest chance of coastal flooding.
Flooding prevented school buses from dropping off four loads of students at their regular routes in Shoreline Park in the Bay-Waveland School District. A transportation worker said parents should check the district’s website Wednesday morning for reports of bus-stop changes.
“There were 223 streets that had minor and heavy water over the roads,” Hancock County Emergency Management Director Brian Adam said in a news release. “There was anywhere from 2 inches of water to 1 foot of water over the roads.”
Roads in Gulf Park Estates and other areas of Jackson County were underwater Tuesday afternoon and ditches were beginning to swell. Emergency Services Director Earl Etheridge said flooding should remain minor, “unlike the flooding you will see in Hancock County.”
Forecasters say Michael could bring 4 to 8 inches of rain to areas near the center of the storm, with up to 12 inches in some areas.
It’s uncertain how much rain the hurricane will bring to the Mississippi Coast, said Rupert Lacy, Harrison County emergency management director.
The local region could get 1 to 2 inches of rain, Lacy said.
“However, it should be noted that totals could be significantly higher if any bands result in multiple storms passing over the same areas,” he said.
With high tide running around 11:37 p.m. on the Mississippi Coast for the next couple of nights, residents could wake up to see more flooding, Lacy said.
Flooded roads in Hancock County
- Everest Street on Westside of Hwy. 603 had 10 streets
- Sugar Field on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 2 streets
- Lagan on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 24 streets
- Central Avenue on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 54 streets
- Avenue B on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 8 streets
- Jordan River Drive on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 10 streets
- Chapman Road on Eastside of Hwy. 603 had 15 streets
- Avenue B on Westside of Hwy. 603 had 7 streets
- Kiln-Waveland Cut-off Road had 11 streets
- Harbor Drive had 20 streets
- Riverside Drive in Pearlington
- North Beach Blvd. from Paradise to Burnette
- Beach Blvd. from Dane Street to Lakeshore Road
- Pontiac and Comanche in Jordan River Shores
- Union Street on Westside of Hwy 603 had 27 streets
- Heron Bay in Ansley had 16 streets
Where are the Weather Channel reporters?
- Panama City Beach, Florida – Jim Cantore, Chris Bruin, Reynolds Wolf, Alex Wilson
- Apalachicola, Florida – Chris Warren, Mike Bettes
- Tallahassee, Florida – Jen Carfagno, Tevin Wooten