Major Hurricane Florence will continue churning toward the Carolina coast with its eye set on major damage. The Category 3 storm will stall out and produce days worth of flooding rains for North and South Carolina.
The effects of the storm will begin Thursday as outer bands cross over Wilmington, Morehead City and other towns near the coast. The main threat with this storm will be flooding, but very high storm surge and damaging winds will be common against the shoreline and some ways inland.
The image below shows a pretty strong and organized area of winds with gusts over hurricane forecast hitting land by later Thursday. Actual landfall will likely come in SE portions of North Carolina on Friday as the eye moves inland. The big forecast change over the last day or so is the storm will job southwest and spread major flooding well into South Carolina.
“Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?” said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Just because this storm isn’t a Category 5 doesn’t mean it’s not extreme dangerous and presents a real threat to life and property. Billions of dollars in damage are likely from these type of storms.
Expect the northwest movement to continue until Florence begins interacting more with land. The friction caused from the topography of land negatively effects tropical systems. The storm will slow down and weaken. The large-scale atmospheric setup has a few areas of high pressure ridging that will force Hurricane Florence to meander southwest over a couple of day period on land.
By the end of the weekend the weather pattern aloft will change and this will allow for the remnants of Florence to be picked up and pulled through Tennessee and eventually into the Ohio Valley.
Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles from the storm’s center. Hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles.
The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.
Catastrophic Flooding Threat
All of this sitting and spinning will cause days worth of torrential rain. Some spots are going to content with feet of water adding up. This is a recipe for devastating flooding. Hurricane Harvey did this in Houston last year and dumped record amounts of rain. There is a real possibility that some areas will see 20-40″ depending on how long and where Florence sits this weekend.
The silver lining is those amounts will be generally confined to a small area. 5-10 inch rain amounts will not be uncomon; however. That is still plenty of rain to cause significant issues. Always remember to TURN AROUND DON”T DROWN when you meet a roadway fully covered in water.