Hurricane Michael, which made landfall on the Florida panhandle Wednesday, was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning as it began its charge into North Carolina.
The fast-moving storm promises plenty of rain and potentially gusty tropical winds in the Triad before it completes it's daylong stay in North Carolina.
Even before the downpour began Thursday morning, the National Weather Service upgraded numerous weather alerts across the region. Most of the Triad began the day under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flash Flood Watch. Some of those watches were upgraded to Flash Flood Warnings, and several counties have been tagged with Tornado Watches until Thursday night.
Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says residents of the Piedmont and Central North Carolina need to batten down the hatches.
“The heaviest rain with Michael will fall across the mid-state and upstate regions of North Carolina, generally from Charlotte to Winston-Salem and Greensboro,” Huffman said. “Those areas and surrounding locations will likely see a general two-to-five inches of rain before it ends early this evening.”
The storm could also spawn tornadoes as it turns east and races toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials Wednesday encouraged residents to restock their emergency preparedness kits and use caution as the storm approached. Much of North Carolina is still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which dumped heavy rains across the state for several days.
Hurricane Michael rushed the shores of Florida's gulf coast as a Category 4 storm in what forecasters called a “worst case scenario” for the region.
The storm swamped streets and wrecked homes as the most powerful hurricane on record to move through the panhandle, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. It weakened quickly, and was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved into southern Georgia overnight.
As for the Triad, typical autumn weather is set for a quick return once Michael passes. The National Weather Service is expecting sunny skies with highs in the mid-70s on Friday.