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Hurricane Michael expected to bring strong winds, heavy rain to Georgia

Hurricane Michael forms in the western Caribbean, takes aim at Florida’s Panhandle

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Hurricane Michael to intensify to a major hurricane before the storm makes landfall somewhere on Florida's Panhandle.
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The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Hurricane Michael to intensify to a major hurricane before the storm makes landfall somewhere on Florida's Panhandle.

A major hurricane is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico which could have disastrous impacts for Florida’s panhandle into southwest and Middle Georgia.

Residents are urged to keep an eye on Hurricane Michael which rapidly strengthened Monday.

Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency director Spencer Hawkins said that unless the track shifts significantly, the midstate will feel the effects.

“We will be seeing impacts and the degree of those impacts is what’s yet to be determined,” Hawkins said Monday after the 11 a.m. weather briefing.

National Hurricane Center forecasters show Michael is expected to track northward through the Gulf of Mexico where warm waters could intensify the storm into a major hurricane before landfall Wednesday.

Computer models predict landfall somewhere between Florida’s panhandle and the “Big Bend” area near Tallahassee.

The cone of uncertainty plots where the center of the storm is expected to track, but the effect could be outside that zone.

While coastal areas and extreme southwest Georgia are expected to bear the brunt of the storm, Michael could pack a punch as far inland as Middle Georgia which is expected to feel tropical storm force winds over 39 mph.

The threat of tornadoes also exists across south Georgia as the storm comes ashore.

Projections show up to a 60-percent chance of tropical storm force winds from Columbus to Macon to Augusta through early Saturday, although the center of the storm is expected to move quickly through Georgia.

Last September, parts of Macon sustained heavy wind damage when weakening Tropical Storm Irma tore through Georgia.

Tropical Storm Irma pummeled the historic Shirley Hills neighborhood of northeast Macon, shocking a neighbor who grew up in Florida. Dozens of tall trees and pines crashed through power lines and snapped poles Sept. 11, 2017.

As of Monday’s forecasts, up to 10 inches of rain is expected near where the storm makes landfall and into southwest Georgia and toward the southeastern counties of Middle Georgia.

Up to 6 inches of rain is expected in Middle Georgia as the storm moves through.

Computer forecast models show the center of the storm tracking toward Macon overnight Wednesday before turning to the northeast and heading Thursday into the Carolinas while maintaining tropical storm status.

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The forecast is subject to change and everyone is urged to monitor storm updates and advisories.

Hawkins is urging people in the southern half of Georgia to prepare now for likely power outages and flash flooding.

“Now is the time to make sure that you have your emergency disaster kit ready with your flashlight, batteries, glow sticks, weather radio. Have your family plan ready,” Hawkins said.

He encourages Bibb County residents to sign up for MBCAlert, which provides emergency updates directly to your cellphone.

Visit maconbibb.us/mbcalert to sign up for the free service from the Macon-Bibb County government.

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