SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - Despite the presence of 20 mph westerly shear Michael defies the odds and gets stronger and larger.
Top winds continue to increase around a 35 mile wide eye. Maximum sustained winds are now at 90 mph and expected to go higher throughout the day on Tuesday.
The forecast is still on track for a major storm to make landfall around midday on Wednesday near Apalachicola with winds of 120 mph and gusts up to 150. The steering currents remain strong and there will not be any sudden turn to the East toward the Suncoast.
All the forecast models remain tightly packed moving the storms center N to NW throughout the day on Tuesday keeping the storm well to our West over 150 miles offshore.
This storm will generate large swells along Suncoast beaches through Wednesday.
A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Anna Maria Island and Tampa Bay. At this time it looks like this will stay as a watch as the tropical storm force winds should stay offshore of the Suncoast. There is still a 30% chance we may see T.S. force winds.
It will be a breezy day on Tuesday with winds out of the E/SE at 20-25 mph. We will see an occasional storms or feeder bands roll through which could bring 40-50 mph winds and an isolated tornado.
Otherwise expect mostly cloudy skies with a few breaks in the clouds at times. Highs will be in the mid 80s due to the increased cloud cover from Michael.
We are expecting a slight storm surge especially as the winds begin to switch around more to the South and SW once the storms center moves north of our latitude.
The storm surge watch remains in effect, along with a high surf advisory, rip currents and coastal flood watch.
Right now the tides are running almost 1 foot above average and should only get higher once the storms center gets closer. With tides running higher than normal we may see some flooding of roadways on some of the barrier islands.
Rainfall amounts could be 1-3" inches in a few spots with higher amounts in isolated areas as some of the rain bands move through.
We will still see a few storms moving in on Wednesday as well, in fact once Michael starts to move to the NE some of the outer bands will move in from the Gulf and produce some gusty winds and brief periods of heavy rain.
Once Michael makes landfall on Wednesday and races off to the NE our weather should begin to improve on Thursday, but we will still see a good chance for some showers and thunderstorms moving in from the Gulf and it will remain breezy at times.