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Forecast: Hurricane Michael may bring rain, winds to Long Island

Hurricane Michael is shown off the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Michael is shown off the Gulf Coast in this NOAA/RAMMB satellite image taken Tuesday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Long Island is not in Hurricane Michael's path, but a bit of the storm's effects might be felt here.

Michael is expected to be at major hurricane strength when it slams Florida's panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, bringing dangerous storm surges along with it. The storm is expected to weaken as it moves through the Carolinas, then re-strengthen over the western Atlantic Ocean Friday as a post-tropical system that  will pass well to the southeast of Long Island, forecasters say.

But a "tropical moisture plume” will be streaming into the area Thursday and interacting with a cold front moving in from the west, bringing with it potential for heavy rain and some flooding.

Think of it as a tropical air mass from the outer ring of Michael — as the storm moves across Georgia and the Carolinas — being drawn up into this area, said Bill Goodman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton. This is a good reminder, he said, of how such a system can interact with other atmospheric forces and  affect weather well outside a storm’s forecast track.

The interaction of the plume and the cold front is expected to bring potential for heavy rain Thursday and Thursday night to the New York region, the weather service's Upton office said in a hazardous-weather outlook. The focus is more on the afternoon and evening hours, with potential for 1 to 1½ inches of rain and in some spots higher, said David Wally,  another weather service meteorologist in Upton.

If that expectation holds, the Island could see mainly urban and poor-drainage flooding. Minor coastal flooding is also possible Thursday afternoon during the high tidal cycle, primarily along the most vulnerable coastal areas of western Long Island’s South Shore bays. No significant shoreline impacts were anticipated as of Tuesday evening, the weather service said.

Along with possible rain, any thunderstorms that develop Thursday on Long Island could deliver some isolated damaging wind gusts, the hazardous outlook said.

Barring any shift in the storm's track as of Tuesday evening, the system's heavy rainfall and continuing tropical storm winds should stay well offshore Friday, the weather service said.

 Apart from uncertainties, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo advised New Yorkers to “prepare for heavy rains, as well as the potential for flash flooding, in the event that the storm tracks in the state's direction.’

"We will continue to monitor the development of this storm, and even as its impact on the Northeast remains unclear at this time, I urge New Yorkers to take the necessary precautions," Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday.

In addition, he said, "New York is no stranger to the devastation that can come at the hands of Mother Nature and we stand ready to assist our neighbors to the south in any way we can as Hurricane Michael approaches."

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