Dangerous Hurricane Michael, making a beeline for Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, will continue trucking northeast Thursday — on a path into the Mid-Atlantic.
The latest models track Michael, which will transition to a weakening tropical storm, through eastern North Carolina and ultimately southeastern Virginia before scooting out to sea on Friday. This path means the D.C. area is most likely to get brushed by the northern fringe of Michael’s rains Thursday and Thursday night, but the core should pass a good distance to our southeast.
Substantial rain and even some strong winds may not be too distant. The Virginia Beach area is likely to receive several inches of rain, enough to cause some flooding, and gusty winds Thursday night. If the storm takes a more northerly track, these conditions could even spread over Richmond, Virginia’s Northern Neck, Southern Maryland and toward the Maryland/Delaware beaches on the Delmarva Peninsula.
For the immediate Washington area, Michael’s exact track is likely to make the difference between a light to moderate rain event and a moderately heavy rain event.
Here are the details of these two scenarios and note that — irrespective of Michael’s track — the Washington region is likely to experience some gusty winds, more than 30 mph, in the storm’s wake early Friday morning.
Scenario 1: Michael tracks just south of Virginia Beach, light to moderate rain in D.C. (55 percent chance)
In this scenario, D.C. receives little or no rain from Michael’s core. Meaningful rain is focused south and east of Fredericksburg, Va. The D.C. area would still get some on-and-off showers Thursday and Thursday night from a passing cold front, which might draw in some moisture from Michael.
Total rainfall would be less than one inch in most spots, increasing some to the southeast of Washington, and winds would mostly remain light until early Friday, after any rain has ended.
The European and NAM models support this scenario.
Scenario 2: Michael tracks over Virginia Beach or to the north, moderately heavy rain in D.C. (45 percent chance)
In this scenario, D.C. would receive some moderate to heavy rain from both the northern fringe of Michael and the front coming through the region on Thursday and into that night. The heaviest rain would focus south and southeast of Washington from Fredericksburg toward Southern Maryland and into the Southern Delmarva (and south).
Total rainfall would reach one to two inches around the Beltway, probably less than an inch to the north and northwest, and up to two to four inches to the southeast. Some gusty winds, in the 30- to 40-mph range, could accompany the rain, especially in southern areas.
The best chance of any flooding in this scenario would be in southeastern areas.
The Canadian and American models support this scenario.
On Wednesday, we’ll attempt to consolidate these two scenarios into one most likely forecast for the region.