Hurricane Michael Reaches Category 3 Intensity, Officially First Major Hurricane Of Season
Hurricane Michael is officially the first Category 3 Atlantic hurricane of 2012, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as it moves northeast at 7 mph.
Michael is the seventh hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic season, but is not expected to make landfall, reports NBC News. The major hurricane is about 1,020 miles west-southwest of the Azores and no coastal warnings are in effect so far.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami added that Michael’s predecessor, Leslie, could hit Bermuda, as the now category 1 hurricane is moving north toward the islands at 1 mph.
Michael, being a category 3 storm, would have the potential for widespread floods and devastation, but Jonathan Erdman, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, stated that the major storm is “well removed from any land interests [and is] not a wave generator for the East Coast.”
According to NOLA, Hurricane Michael is expected to decrease in speed in the next two days, turning north and north-northwest, eventually turning to the northwest on Saturday. Gusts have been recorded higher than 115 mph and little change in the storm’s strength is expected for Thursday.
The major hurricane is expected to lose some strength around Friday. Hurricane force winds have been recorded up to 15 miles from Michael’s eye, with tropical storm force winds extending out as far as 70 miles. The minimum central pressure of the storm is 964 mb, 28.47 inches.
Hurricane Michael is one of three predicted major storms for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, just a little before halfway through the season. It is also the seventh hurricane of the season, slightly above the average number normally seen throughout the year.