By: Jeff Hill
Tropical Storm Michael continues to strengthen in the western Caribbean and will move into the Gulf of Mexico later today, and then take a course that will take it into the panhandle of Florida, and ultimately Georgia.
As of 5:00 a.m. the storm has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, and is located about 95 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. Movement is north at 7 MPH and that general motion should continue into Monday
Michael is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane later today in the south-central Gulf of Mexico, and then eventually a Category 2 storm with winds near 110 mph before making landfall Wednesday along the western edge of the panhandle of Florida.
As the storm tracks farther north it will move across the southern half of Georgia late Wednesday through Thursday morning. The heaviest rain and strongest winds will remain across south Georgia and northern Florida on the east side of the storm. Here in north Georgia we can expect rain of 1-3″ with wind gusts on the order of 25-35 mph. Some gusts and rain amounts will be higher the farther south and east you get from metro Atlanta. Most of the rain and wind will hold off until late Wednesday through early Thursday morning with clearing by Thursday afternoon. This is only a preliminary track that will be refined with time, so check back often for updates as they become available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Officials are advising residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm’s progress.