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Though Michael has weakened following landfall, a swath of damaging winds and flooding will continue to race northeastward through the mid-Atlantic states through Friday morning.
Michael lost tropical characteristics early Friday morning as it moved over the open waters of the western Atlantic.
Forecasters anticipate widespread fallen trees, power outages
Those along the path of the storm through Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula should expect downed trees and power outages. Emergency managers have already reported trees down across homes and roadways in portions of central and eastern Virginia early Friday morning.
It is very dangerous to stand, walk, park or linger under tall trees in a situation like this. Large limbs may break, or entire trees may topple over. Many trees are waterlogged due to the excessive rainfall from this past summer. The soil in many areas is saturated. Trees are top heavy as a result.
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Winds don't have to be hurricane-force to cause dangerous conditions and damage hundreds of miles from the point of landfall.
Gusts to tropical storm force (39 mph or greater) may extend as far to the northeast as southeastern Maryland, southern Delaware and the New Jersey cape. Gusts this high can break weak tree limbs and cause sporadic power outages.
Over 1.6 million people, stretching from Maryland to Florida, are without power as of early Friday morning as a result of the storm. Some residents may not have power restored for a week or more.
Winds will be strong enough to toss unsecured objects around, including piles of debris from cleanup in the wake of Florence.
Be sure to have cell phones and external batteries charged up in advance of the storm. It may be a good idea to have at least one car with a full tank of gas. Use plastic containers to freeze large blocks of ice to help keep items cold in a cooler or your freezer for an extended period.
Inland flooding threat greatest in urban areas and along small streams
A general 4-8 inches of rain is forecast along the path of Michael. Based on radar, close to 12 inches of rain fell on parts of southern Georgia and northern Florida.
While some rivers will rise much faster when compared to Florence, the overall magnitude of river flooding will be significantly less than Florence in most of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.
However, since areas farther to the southwest in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and eastern Alabama were missed by the bulk of Florence's rain, river flooding may be significant in some locations. In this area, it may take several days for rivers to rise, crest and recede.
It is possible that some small streams and rivers in parts of Virginia and western North Carolina may rise to higher levels than during Florence.
While the fast-paced nature of the storm will limit the duration of the rain, enough will fall to bring flash, urban and small stream flooding. Life-threatening flash flooding can still occur with Michael.
Never drive through flooded areas as the water may be still rising and the road surface beneath the water washed away.
Coastal flooding to extend to part of Atlantic coast
An east wind will push Atlantic Ocean water toward the coasts of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey into Friday.
Water levels will rise enough to cause minor to moderate coastal flooding. Water may wash over low-lying areas of barrier islands and some causeways.
Brief, stormy conditions to brush mid-Atlantic coast
"Even though Michael will be racing out to sea by Friday, the storm's close proximity to the coast can bring a brief period of heavy rain to parts of eastern Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Long Island, New York, and southeastern New England," Abrams said.
Seas and surf will build quickly into Friday along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts.
Small craft should remain in port through Friday. Cruise and shipping interests may want to alter their itinerary until the storm has passed.
Bathers should stay out of the water on Friday, especially since no lifeguards are on duty this time of the year.
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