The National Hurricane Center indicates Tropical Storm Michael was located - as of 17:00 (local time) on Thursday, October 11 - approximately 35 km (20 mi) north-northwest of Raleigh (North Carolina) and was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph). The storm is moving on a northeasterly trajectory at 39 km/h (24 mph) along the east coast of the United States and is forecast to increase in speed through the early morning hours of Friday, October 12. Michael is producing flash flooding across portions of North Carolina and south-central Virginia, as well as tropical-storm-force gusts in northeastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. Flooding and landslides have been reported in northwestern Florida, central South Carolina (including Lexington county and Richland county), and western North Carolina (including Henderson county and McDowell county).
Michael is forecast to produce rainfall totals of 10-18 cm (4-7 in) from north-central North Carolina into south-central and southeastern Virginia, and up to 23 cm (9 in) in isolated areas of North Carolina and Virginia over the coming hours. Such rainfall is capable of producing life-threatening flash floods. Rain accumulations of 2-8 cm (1-3 in) are forecast across the coastal northern Mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Additionally, tornadoes are possible in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia over the coming hours.
The storm has resulted in at least six deaths as of October 11, including four deaths in Gadsden county (Florida) and one death each in Seminole county (Georgia) and Iredell county (North Carolina). Although rainfall has totaled only 5-10 cm (2-4 in) in North Carolina, high winds are producing extreme hazards, including falling debris. According to utility companies across multiple states, more than 1.1 million buildings are without power as of October 11 due to the storm. Michael is forecast to pass over the states North Carolina, Virginia, and the southern tip of Maryland before moving out to sea early on Friday. Lingering transportation disruptions (including numerous flight delays and cancelations) and power outages are to be expected in affected areas as recovery efforts continue over the coming days.
Tropical storms and hurricanes are common in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico from June through November, though major hurricanes have historically seldom approached the Florida Panhandle along Michael's path.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. evacuation notices), and confirm travel plans. Remember that walking or driving through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult - and floodwaters can contain wastewater and chemical products; all items having come into contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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