Hurricane Florence could rewrite the record books for damage once it hits the southeast coast of the U.S. later this week.
The hurricane, currently zeroing in on North or South Carolina on Thursday could “produce life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding & significant river flooding over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states from late this week into early next week,” the National Hurricane Center warned Tuesday.
The center also tweeted a warning about “a life-threatening storm surge along the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina & Virginia” as well as “damaging hurricane-force winds along parts of the coasts of South & North Carolina.” Those winds could impact inland areas of the Carolinas and Virginia as well, the NHC warned on Twitter.
#Florence is likely to cause damaging hurricane-force winds along parts of the
coasts of South & North Carolina, & a Hurricane Watch is in effect for some of this area. Damaging winds could also spread well inland into portions of the Carolinas & Virginia https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/DzNeyuPLYV
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 11, 2018
“There’s never been a storm like Florence. It was located farther north in the Atlantic than any other storm to ever hit the Carolinas, so what we’re forecasting is unprecedented. Also, most storms coming into the Carolinas tend to move northward, and this storm looks like it’s going to stall over the region and potentially bring tremendous, life-threatening flooding,” said Marshall Moss, vice president of forecasting and graphics operations for AccuWeather.
Although the storm’s top winds dipped from 140 mph to 130 mph on Tuesday morning, experts said that they expect the storm will recover its punch, The Washington Post reported.
In fact, Dennis Feltgen, a spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, said that reaching Category 5 is “certainly a possibility.”
Flooding due to Florence could be widespread because the Mid-Atlantic region is already well above its season average for rainfall, leaving the ground unable to absorb the tremendous amount of rain that could be dumped on the region by the new storm.
If Florence hits the Carolinas as a Category 4 storm, it will only be the third to do so in recorded history.
That worries Chip Konrad, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Regional Climate Center and an assistant professor of geography at the University of North Carolina. He said that inland areas not accustomed to high winds could receive the most damage.
Florence “has the potential to be the most destructive hurricane we’ve had in modern history for this region,” he said, The Atlantic reported.
Konrad said current conditions could mean that after Florence hits, high-pressure air bands to the north and east will hold it in place.
If that happens, areas of Virginia an the Carolinas that get up to 50 inches of rain a year could get 32 inches within a couple of days.
As Hurricane #Florence makes landfall, the storm movement will be a crawl. Models are showing monumental rainfall totals along the coast and just inland east of the eye's landfall location … large area of 20"+ rainfall up to 40"+
Both ECMWF and UKMET show similar patterns. pic.twitter.com/owtHr1TIAr
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) September 11, 2018
From Virginia to South Carolina, various levels of governments have ordered what amounts to more than a million people to evacuate from the storm’s path, CBS reported.
— Sam Tyson (@SamInteractive) September 11, 2018
The Category 4 storms to hit the Carolinas included Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
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