Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday on the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane and could reach the Carolinas by Thursday, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
The NWS has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Southeastern North Carolina. Forecasters said Wednesday that the storm is likely to bring tropical storm force winds to the area Thursday.
Area businesses, many still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence, were bracing for additional rain and wind.
The Wilmington International Airport (ILM) has been checking with airlines for impacts to inbound and outbound flights to Wilmington, according to Gary Broughton, deputy airport director at ILM.
American Airlines had canceled nine departures that were scheduled for Thursday from ILM, Broughton said at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Travelers are advised to verify the status of their flights with American Airlines or go to the airline's website, he said.
Flight updates are listed on ILM's arrivals and departures page
American Airlines is one of three major commercial airliners at ILM, along with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. “No announcement from Delta or United at this point,” Broughton said Wednesday afternoon.
Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday that it canceled 40 flights at four Florida airports because of Hurricane Michael. Last week, Delta reported that Hurricane Florence, which made landfall near Wrightsville Beach on Sept 14, had negatively impacted pre-tax income by an estimated $30 million.
Meanwhile, ILM lost more than 150 flights in September
because of Hurricane Florence, said Julie Wilsey, ILM's airport director.
An operations alert was issued for the Port of Wilmington on Wednesday morning by N.C. Ports, ahead of Hurricane Michael's impact on the Carolinas. The alert stated that due to waterway closures by the U.S. Coast Guard, vessel operations at marine terminals at both the Port of Wilmington and the Port of Morehead City are set to be suspended Thursday. Officials anticipate that those operations could resume Friday.
Commercial truck gates at the Port of Wilmington, however, were operating its normal hours, according to the alert.
Emergency management at New Hanover Regional Medical Center was closely monitoring Hurricane Michael, said Julian March, spokesman for NHRMC.
NHRMC did not anticipate any cancellations or closures as of Wednesday afternoon, he said.
Michael is predicted to bring an average of 2 to 5 inches of rain locally, forecasters said. A flash flood warning has been issued for Southeastern North Carolina. And a high risk for tornadoes and marine impacts has been forecasted, according to the NWS report.
Pender County declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael's landfall on the Florida coast, while Brunswick County's state of emergency will take effect Thursday morning, along with a voluntary evacuation for residents in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Cape Fear Community College announced that it will close all campus locations for students faculty and staff Thursday.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington announced Wednesday afternoon that classes are canceled as of 12:15 p.m. on Thursday with university offices closing at 1 p.m. on Thursday. UNCW anticipates reopening classes and campus on Friday morning. Resident students are expected to shelter in place as of 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Brunswick County Schools announced Wednesday that schools will be closed Thursday and Friday for students and staff. Essential staff will be notified if they are needed for work and can come in safely, according to the school system.
New Hanover County Schools are also closed Thursday for students, according to a news release. Staff will have an optional workday. The school system plans to resume classes Friday, depending on weather forecasts.
The New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center will begin a partial activation at 7 a.m. Thursday, according to a county news release.
A state of emergency "remains in effect for New Hanover County, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence," officials said in the release. New Hanover County is planning normal business operations Thursday.
“Additional power outages may occur as a result of this storm,” said Emergency Management Director Steven Still in the release. “So we encourage residents to be prepared. Have enough food, water and medication to last for two to three days.”