• UPDATES: Michael to make biggest impact in Charlotte during Thursday morning commute

    Updated:

    We have a team of reporters bringing you live reports -- from the Florida coast to right here in Charlotte -- and Chief Meteorologist Steve Udelson and Meteorologist John Ahrens are analyzing new data just coming in on the storm, it's timing, and the impact it will have once it moves through our area.

    Remember, you can watch our radar anytime at home on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.

    [CLICK for a running list of closings because of Michael]

    Latest Michael outlook:

    • Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Cat 4 storm near Mexico Beach, Florida
    • As of 11 p.m. Wednesday, Michael was downgraded to a Cat 1 with 75 mph sustained winds
    • Michael is moving east-northeast at 20 mph as it moves along south central Georgia and heads toward the Carolinas
    • Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state
    • The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Georgia as Hurricane Michael pushed through the state, and local media report three of them may have touched down
    • Michael will accelerate as it pushes northeast toward the Carolinas
    • There are several area counties under tropical storm warnings
    • Flood warnings have been issued for Gaston, Anson and Stanly counties.

    • The closest local approach will be Thursday before dawn just south and east of the metro area
    • The Charlotte area could see sustained winds of 30-40 mph with some gusts over 50 mph
    • 3-5 inches of rain expected around Charlotte and flash flooding is possible (more south and east) 
    • The storm will quickly push out late Thursday afternoon and usher in some great weather for the weekend
    • There will be an isolated tornado risk, especially south and east


    ***SCROLL BELOW FOR MINUTE-BY-MINUTE UPDATES ON MICHAEL***


    More Hurricane Content:


    >> Reporter Dave Faherty is positioned along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Michael comes ashore -- follow him on Twitter for real-time updates and look for his exclusive content on our WSOC app on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.

    >> Even when not on air, our meteorologists are tracking Category 3 Michael as it pushes from the Florida Panhandle toward the Carolinas. Download our weather app for pinpoint impacts where you live.

    >> We'll have team coverage from all angles to get you ready for Michael's impact, on Eyewitness News.

    >> Click PLAY below to watch the latest Channel 9 forecast update on Hurricane Michael

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    [SPECIAL SECTION: Tracking the Tropics]

    [WATCH these must-see livestreams of the Florida Panhandle]

    [TIMELINE: Where is the storm going; what time will it make landfall?]

    [Hurricane Michael: Scenes from Florida as the storm approaches]

    [IN PHOTOS: A timeline of Hurricane Michael's approach to the U.S.]

    [STEP-BY-STEP: How to customize your WSOCTV news app experience]

    [WATCH: Interactive Radar]

    [LINK: National Hurricane Center monitoring the tropics]

    [GIVE: Join WSOC-TV & the Red Cross to help]

    [LINK: Build a hurricane survival kit]

    [15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane]

    [WATCH: A look back at Hurricane Hugo 1989 PART 1]

    [WATCH: A look back at Hurricane Hugo 1989 PART 2]


    Minute-by-minute developments on Hurricane Michael:

    6 p.m.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be closed for all students and staff on Thursday.

    The district cited dangerously high winds, flash floods and unsafe travel conditions as reasons behind the closure.

     

     

    [CLICK for a running list of closings because of Michael]

    5:30 p.m.

    The National Hurricane Center says Michael has lost some power, but it remains a dangerous Category 3 storm as it approaches an area where Florida, Alabama and Georgia meet.

    Maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (200 kph) continued to batter the Florida Panhandle, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 40 miles from the center.

    It made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane earlier Wednesday afternoon.

    According to a 5 p.m. advisory, the storm was located 30 miles west of Bainbridge, Georgia, and 70 miles southwest of Albany, Georgia. It was moving north-northeast at 16 mph.

    Forecasters say storm surge waters are beginning to recede, but some normally dry areas near the coast will continue to be flooded.

    ____

    5:10 p.m.

    One of the country's largest state fairs is delaying its start as the remnants of Hurricane Michael pass through North Carolina.

    North Carolina State Fair manager Kent Yelverton said Wednesday the event won't open as planned on Thursday. Yelverton says the fair will instead open Friday morning and run for 10 days instead of 11.

    State Agriculture Department spokeswoman Andrea Ashby said forecasts of heavy rain and high winds led to the decision.

    Michael came ashore in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. It is expected to pack wind gusts of 35 mph or more and dump several inches of rain in North Carolina.

    Ashby said the fairgrounds will remain closed to the general public Thursday, though vendors and others with businesses to run will be admitted.

    ____

    4:20 p.m.

    A Red Cross official says it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

    Evacuation orders were sent by state and local officials to about 325,000 people. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6,000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including nearly 1,200 who are still in shelters following Hurricane Florence.

    Michael went from a tropical storm to a projected Category 3 hurricane in around six hours and could have caught thousands off guard.

    Brad Kieserman is the Vice President of Operations and Logistics for the American Red Cross. He says the storm "intensified extremely quickly and didn't give anyone enough time to do much."

    ____

    4 p.m.

    Rock Hill Schools announced it will be closed Thursday due to the forecasted wind gusts.

    [CLICK for a running list of closings because of Michael]

     

     

    3:10 p.m.

    Anson, Chesterfield, Lancaster and Richmond County schools will be closed Thursday.

    ____

    3:05 p.m.

    Officials in South Carolina say they are more concerned about tornadoes than flooding from Hurricane Michael.

    The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina through Thursday morning as Michael moves inland.

     

     

    Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley says the tornadoes can spin up fast with little warning in the rainbands of the weakening hurricane.

    South Carolina saw 47 tornadoes in two days in 2004 as Tropical Storm Frances move north from the Florida Panhandle.

    Baxley says the 1-to-2-foot storm surge predicted for areas like Hilton Head Island isn't even enough to trigger a warning.

    Along with tornadoes, forecasters are warning of flash flooding from heavy rain and trees and power lines knocked down by gusty winds.

    ____

    3 p.m.

    Authorities say lifeguards had to save three children who were playing in the ocean at a South Carolina beach as Hurricane Michael approached.

    Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley said a 15-year-old and two 9-year-olds were on boogie boards off Hilton Head Island around 12:15 p.m. Wednesday when the waves quickly started to pull them from shore.

    Baxley says rescuers were able to make it to the children and bring them to safety.

    Baxley said at a news conference there is no reason to be in the ocean Wednesday.

    Beaufort County is under a tropical storm warning as Michael makes landfall about 325 miles southwest in the Florida Panhandle.

    ____

    1:42 p.m.

    Hurricane Michael makes landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida with 155 mph winds.

    ____

    1:05 p.m.

    The eyewall of Hurricane Michael is coming ashore along the coast of the Florida Panhandle between St. Vincent Island and Panama City, according to the National Hurricane Center.

    Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty and photographer Sean Siemon are there. Check out the video in the tweet below.

     

     

     

    ___

    12:30 p.m.

    President Donald Trump is being briefed on Hurricane Michael as it closes in on the Florida Panhandle with potentially catastrophic 150 mph winds.

    Trump is warning of the power of the storm as he meets with his Homeland Security Secretary and the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long.

    Long is describing the storm as a "Gulf Coast hurricane of the worst kind," which he says will be similar in strength to "an EF3 tornado making landfall."

    Trump says he spoke with Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday and says the federal government is coordinating with all of the states that could be impacted.

    The Category 4 storm could be most powerful storm on record ever to hit the region. More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast have been warned to evacuate.

     

     

    ___

    12:15 p.m.

    Thousands of people along Florida's northern Gulf Coast have heeded warnings to evacuate, and many are cramming into high schools put to use as shelters.

    Diane Farris and her son Waine Hall walked to the shelter nearest their home in Panama City, Rutherford High School, and found about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many.

    She says the cafeteria and gym are full so they're putting people in the hallways and almost every room.

    And she says more people are coming every minute.

    Farris says she's terrified about predictions of "the big one" and desperate to know where her relatives are.

    Another shelter resident, Michigan native Pamela Cowley, says she's nervous because people are saying they could go weeks without electricity.

     

     

    ___

    Noon:

    Hurricane Michael will weaken once its core hits land and stops drawing strength from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

    But forecasters say it won't dissipate quickly. In fact, Michael is expected to whip parts of Alabama and Georgia with hurricane-force winds as it travels north.

     

     

    The National Hurricane Center expects Michael to hold tropical storm strength through Thursday as it crosses the Carolinas.

    Forecasters say Michael should re-emerge over the Atlantic Ocean on Friday and regain some strength as it moves away from the U.S. coast.

    Tropical storm warnings and a storm-surge watch were extended Wednesday morning to North Carolina's barrier islands.

     

     

    ___

    11:45 a.m.

    Hurricane Michael is still getting stronger as it closes in on Florida's Gulf Coast, with top winds growing to nearly 150 mph.

    The National Hurricane Center says data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicates that the minimum pressure inside the eye of the hurricane is still dropping, down to 923 millibars.

    Hurricane Michael's center is now less than 50 miles off the coast, with hurricane-force gusts reaching the shore.

     

     

    ___

    11:25 a.m.

    Hurricane Michael isn't the only storm gaining strength in the tropics.

    Fortunately, the National Hurricane Center says the other two tropical weather systems over the Atlantic Ocean are no threat to land.

    At 11 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Leslie had top sustained winds of 75 mph about 1,130 miles southwest of the Azores. And Tropical Storm Nadine had top sustained winds of 65 mph about 505 miles off the Cabo Verde Islands.

    Meanwhile, authorities have issued a tropical storm watch for a stretch of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, where Tropical Storm Sergio is forecast to arrive later this week. The Hurricane Center says the storm threatens heavy rainfall in northwestern Mexico and then the U.S. Southern Plains and the Ozarks over the weekend.

     

     

    ___

    11:15 a.m.

    The following area counties are under tropical storm warnings:

    • Union County
    • Anson County
    • Richmond County
    • Lancaster County
    • York County
    • Chester County
    • Chesterfield County
    • Stanly County

     

     

    _____

    11 a.m.

    The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Michael appears "extremely impressive" in satellite imagery as the storm barrels toward Florida's Panhandle.

    At 11 a.m. Michael had top sustained winds of 145 mph and was about 60 miles offshore, moving north-northeast toward Panama City at 14 mph.

    Senior Hurricane Specialist Dan Brown said in a forecast discussion that Michael still had a few more hours to strengthen over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before it makes landfall Wednesday afternoon.

     

     

    Brown said Michael also will bring hurricane-force winds well inland over Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

    Wind gusts of 46 mph already have been felt in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, a couple dozen miles from the coast.

    ____

    10:35 a.m.

    North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael.

    Restrictions on trucks and heavy vehicles have been waved to help the state prepare, and 150 National Guard troops will report for duty this afternoon.

    Cooper held a press conference with what he said was a "dual purpose." His goal was to brief North Carolina residents on Hurricane Michael and share proposed budget funding for Florence relief efforts.

    "Heavy rain and tropical storm force winds are heading our way. Make no mistake, Michael is a terrible storm," said Cooper.

    Officials say Michael's winds will be strong enough to tear down trees and the hardest rain, up to 7 inches in some areas, is expected throughout Thursday. 

    Mike Sprayberry, Director of North Carolina Emergency Management reminded residents to have an emergency kit ready and restocked if it was used during Hurricane Florence.

     

     

    Cooper reviewed the Florence budget saying the estimated cost of damage from the storm totals almost $13 billion. He said he recommends a long-term funding package and will request that Congress makes a $750 million down payment into the Florence recovery fund.

     

     

    Cooper said the impact of Florence on North Carolina has inspired leaders to make the necessary changes to strengthen the state and ensure residents are prepared during natural disasters. He suggested creating an office of recovery and resilience to serve as a sister organization to the Department of Emergency Management.

     

     

    ___

    10:30 a.m.

    The storm surge from Hurricane Michael has come ashore and is growing deeper.

    According to a National Hurricane Center update, a National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola reported over 4 feet of inundation above ground level by mid-morning Wednesday. Forecasters have said the hurricane could push up to 14 feet of ocean water ashore in Apalachicola, surging over normal tides.

    Waves are already gnawing away at the base of sand dunes at Panama City Beach.

    Officials are upset that holdouts will soon be surrounded by water. About 50 people resisted evacuating from St. George Island, and two people on Dog Island, which is only accessible by boat, also ignored evacuation orders. Franklin County emergency management coordinator Tress Dameron told The News Herald in Panama City that people who stayed better be wearing their life jackets.

     

     

    ___

    9:45 a.m.

    FEMA Director Brock Long says his agency has nearly 3,000 people in the field ready to assist with Hurricane Michael.

    He says teams and aircraft are ready to support any search and rescue missions in Florida or elsewhere, and that staging areas with commodities needed after storms have been set up in Atlanta and at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

    He also says the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working "hand-in-hand" with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He praised Florida's use on Tuesday evening of the wireless emergency alert system to let residents know that the storm was getting stronger.

    As for the many people who ignored orders to evacuate, Long said Wednesday that people "who stick around and experience storm surge, unfortunately, don't usually live to tell about it."

     

     

    ___

    9:25 a.m.

    National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham is warning that a Category 4 hurricane will bring catastrophic damage to Florida's Panhandle.

    Graham says Michael's top winds of 145 mph are powerful enough to peel off roofs and cause the "complete destruction of houses."

    Stretches of the coast could see storm surge of at least 6 feet, with waters rising in some places up to 14 feet above the ground. Graham wants people to think about how tall they are, and just how high that water can be.

    Michael is powerful enough to remain a hurricane well inland as it travels over Georgia on Thursday. Graham says falling trees will pull down utility lines, leaving some areas without power for weeks, and hazardous conditions will persist long after the storm blows through.

    He says the aftermath of a hurricane is "not the time to start learning to use that chainsaw."

     

     

    ___

    9:15 a.m.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the impact of Hurricane Michael will be "horrible," the worst storm to hit the Panhandle in a century.

    Scott said Wednesday he's "scared to death" that people in places such as St. George Island along the state's coast had ignored evacuation orders.

    He said he hopes that no one kept children with them as they chose to ride it out, but the time to evacuate from coastal areas has "come and gone."

    The governor said state authorities are now focusing on the recovery effort once the fast-moving storm blows through. He has activated up 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard and says thousands of utility workers are on stand-by.

    ___

    9:05 a.m.

    Huge waves are pounding the shore at Panama City Beach, where officials have announced they are now unable to respond to any calls for service. Just inland in Panama City, the fire department says it will respond to only life-threatening emergencies and only within the city limits.

    The biggest waves are shooting frothy green water between homes and up to the base of wooden stairs over the dunes and the skies appear menacing as tropical-storm-force winds lash the coast. Landfall is expected about midday Wednesday.

    ___

    8:25 a.m.

    Michael is now a Category 4 hurricane and so powerful that it is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over central Georgia early Thursday. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency for 92 of the state's 159 counties.

     

     

    A hurricane warning is effect in southwestern Georgia. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the entire Georgia coast, as well as much of the inland areas.

    Between 4 inches and 8 inches of rain are expected in southwest and central Georgia. From 3 inches to 6 inches of rain is expected in other parts of the state.

    The National Weather Service said winds are expected to range from 25 mph to 45 mph in central Georgia, with gusts as high as 70 mph.

     

     

    ___

    8 a.m.

    Hurricane Michael is strengthening as it races over the Gulf of Mexico approaching a landfall along Florida's Panhandle.

    Forecasters say deadly storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall are imminent.

    The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and is moving at 13 mph.

    At 8 a.m., Michael was centered about 90 miles southwest of Panama City, with tropical storm force winds already lashing the coast.

    The hurricane center says Michael will be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle.

     

     

    ___

    7:45 a.m.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning people in the path of massive Hurricane Michael that it's too late to evacuate.

    In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Scott said: "If you chose to state in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY."

     

     

    Hurricane Michael grew into a Category 4 storm overnight and officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a storm that strong has never hit the Florida Panhandle.

    Meanwhile, the Bay County Sheriff's Office warned residents that a "shelter-in-place" order has been issued, and urged everyone to stay off the roads. Sheriff's officials say deputies will continue to respond to calls for now, but that will change as the storm approaches the coastline.

    ___

    7:15 a.m.

    The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Michael would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Florida's Panhandle.

    In a Facebook post, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said "we are in new territory with now Hurricane Michael and its 130 mph sustained winds."

    Feltgen says Bay County is the likely "ground zero" for Hurricane Michael on Wednesday afternoon.

     

     

    The outer bands of the massive storm are beginning to reach the Gulf Coast. At 7 a.m. the center of the storm was about 105 miles south-southwest of Panama City.

    A NOAA buoy located some 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City recorded sustained winds of 76 mph early Wednesday. Forecasters also said a wind gust of 54 mph was reported at Apalachicola Regional Airport.

    ___

    7 a.m.

    Tropical storm watches have been issued for Chesterfield and Lancaster counties.

     

     

    Meteorologist Keith Monday says the biggest concern we will have from Hurricane Michael will be flooding rains. We are expecting 3-5 inches with higher totals in some isolated areas.

    Damaging winds are a bigger concern for areas southeast of Charlotte. The current risk for tornadoes remains low.

     

     

    ___ 

    5:30 a.m.

    Some of the worst storm surge from Category 4 Hurricane Michael is expected to hit Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, which has ordered all non-essential personnel to evacuate.

    The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast shows as much as 13 feet of water on top of the usual waves and tides could inundate the base, which is home to more than 600 families and on an island about 12 miles east of Panama City.

    All base residents were ordered to leave when Tyndall moved to "HURCON 1" status as the storm closes in.

    The base provided transportation but limited families to one large piece of luggage per family and one carry-on piece per person.

    Tyndall is home to the 325th Fighter Wing.

    ___

    5 a.m.

    Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.

     

    Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 145 mph with higher gusts.

    At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles from Panama City and 130 miles from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph. Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles from the center were already lashing the coast.

    Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.

     

    ___

    2:10 a.m.

    The National Hurricane Center says Michael has become an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

    At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 180 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida. It also was about 170 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

     

     

    Michael was expected to become one of the Panhandle's worst hurricanes in memory with a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet.

    Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

    ___

    12:30 a.m.

    Hurricane Michael is roaring down on the Florida Panhandle, gaining strength so quickly that forecasters expect it to become a Category 4 monster once it slams into the white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities.

    The brute storm that sprang from a weekend tropical depression gained in fury and size just hours ahead of Wednesday's projected midday landfall, packed 125 mph winds as a dangerous Category 3 storm. Forecasters say it's expected to keep strengthening in the final hours before it crashes ashore as potentially one of the worst hurricanes in the region's history.

    Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.


    [CLICK HERE to get caught up on Tuesday's coverage of Hurricane Michael]

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