The Grand Strand is now under a tropical storm watch as Hurricane Michael makes its way toward the U.S. mainland.
The watch extends from South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina. A tropical storm watch means “tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
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As of a 5 p.m. ET advisory from the NHC, Michael was about 295 miles south of Panama City, Florida, moving north at 12 mph. It has strengthened to major hurricane status, with maximum sustained winds of up to 120 mph.
A flash flood watch has also been issued for the area.
The National Weather Service cautions that heavy rainfall could lead to flooding in some areas as 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected. With the ground already saturated, some trees will be more susceptible to blow over as the effects of Michael move into the area, the NWS says.
Tornadoes will be possible, especially Thursday, the NWS cautions. “Be prepared to seek shelter if Tornado Warnings are issued for your area.”
Michael could strengthen some more before landfall but will weaken after reaching the U.S., the NWS says.