UPDATE: Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning for the southwestern half of Nova Scotia, including Halifax Metro and Halifax County West late Wednesday afternoon
Significant rainfall is possible later this week in Nova Scotia says a special weather statement from Environment Canada.
Hurricane Michael is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it goes over Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, then transition to a post-tropical storm as it passes south of the province Friday.
The Warning Preparedness Meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre expects Michael to still be a potent system as it skirts by Nova Scotia, adding the big question will be how close it will get to our coastline.
"What we're keeping a close eye on is how far north that envelope of heavy rain is going to reach," said Bob Robichaud early Wednesday afternoon. "Right now, southwestern parts of the province could probably see some heavy rainfall associated with the storm as it goes by."
He said rainfall amounts in those areas could trigger a rainfall warning. The Atlantic coast could get some brief but heavy downpours and the impact should be reduced in northern parts of Nova Scotia.
"But that is very closely linked to the track of the storm and any kind of shift towards the north would push that rain through a larger part of the province."
The still-strengthening hurricane is bearing down on the Florida panhandle Wednesday.
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said the storm is making the "worst fears'' of meteorologists come true: rapid intensification just before landfall on an area that has never experienced a storm this size before.
McNoldy said a key factor was that the water was 4 to 5 degrees warmer than normal, giving the hurricane extra fuel. Also, high atmosphere winds that can disrupt a hurricane were quiet, allowing Michael to gather momentum.
"We are in new territory," National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.
"The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle."
The director of FEMA says his agency has nearly 3,000 people in the field ready to help in any search and rescue missions.
But with many people refusing to evacuate homes in the path of the storm, Brock Long warns those who experience storm surge "don't usually live to tell about it.''
Forecasters are warning some areas could see storm surge up to four metres above normal tide levels, along with top winds of 240 kilometres per hour.
With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press