WASHINGTON — Hurricane Michael is shaping up to be a “monster” storm, in the words of Florida’s governor, but it doesn’t look like there will be any major effects on the D.C. area.
That’s the word from Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts, who added on Tuesday that the effects of Michael would most likely be limited to showers and wind on Thursday into Friday thanks to a cold front that’s heading across the country toward the D.C. area and will fend off Michael before it gets past perhaps the Virginia Beach area.
“Minimal impact” is a lousy title for an action film but a good prediction for a hurricane, and that’s what Ricketts said was coming to the D.C. area. She foresees “wind with a few showers,” starting perhaps late Wednesday night.
Ricketts calls for rain through the day on Thursday and strong breezes that last through the day Friday. The D.C. area should get a total of maybe an inch, with perhaps two inches falling in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore. “It should all be out by Friday afternoon,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch from Thursday afternoon to late Thursday night for Calvert, St. Mary’s and Charles counties in Maryland and Stafford County in Virginia.
Predicting a hurricane is always a tricky business, and Ricketts allowed that “the track can always change,” but she’s relatively confident in this forecast, because the cold front “is really strong, and there’s nothing really slowing it down.” The northernmost edge of the “cone of uncertainty,” she said, goes through Southern Maryland; the southern edge, around the Outer Banks. So Michael might even veer back into the Atlantic farther south than Virginia — more like around North Carolina.
But Michael will be a strong storm when it makes landfall in and around Florida. It’s moving at 12 mph and picking up strength from really warm water — nearly 100 degrees — in the Gulf of Mexico, Ricketts said. She predicts a storm surge of eight to 12 feet around the Florida Panhandle — “catastrophic” for that area.
Michael will be “a major hurricane” in the Florida Panhandle, making landfall Wednesday afternoon, Ricketts said. It’ll weaken to a tropical storm roughly Thursday morning over Georgia, “just the time that that cold front will be knocking on our doorstep, just over the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
“It’ll be something we watch, but we’re fairly confident.”