• Hurricane Florence: slithers to the Carolinas; clinching to coast, life-threatening storm surge

    By: Irene Sans

    Updated:

    11 p.m. update:

    Florence's maximum sustained winds decrease to 90 mph, but the storm itself is barely moving northwest at 6 mph. Although the maximum sustained winds have decreased, it is important to highlight that the wind field, how far the tropical storm and hurricane-force winds expand from the center, continues very large. In fact, hurricane-force winds expand outward to 80 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds expand 195 miles from the center.

     

    To put it in context, that's like having tropical storm-force winds continuously in an area from Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando. Now imagine having these winds, for about 36 hours (because the storm is moving so slow) and since the storm will be hugging the coast, life threatening storm surge will continue to affect the coast for the same amount of time. 

    Florence is located about 50 miles south of Morehead City, North Carolina. The low forward movement of this system makes it really tricky to pin point where the system will be making landfall. It's a huge system, moving really slow that the core could continue to wobble and recenter from advisory to advisory. It is possible that this system could make several landfalls. regardless the system will continue to bring heavy rain to the coasts of South and North Carolina, as well as life-threatening storm surge. 

     

     

    5 p.m. update: 
    Florence crawls at 5 mph to the west-northwest and will stay at this speed for the next 24 hours. The direction will shift before Florence finally moves inland Friday evening. 

     

    Now that the storm is closer to land, Doppler Radars are able to constantly measure wind speeds. The latest radar data indicated that maximum sustained winds hold at 100 mph, a category 2 storm.

     

    Scroll down for indirect impacts to Central Florida and the major impacts to the Carolinas

     

    Although Florence's maximum sustained winds continues to decrease, the storm is still very dangerous and will bring catastrophic damages along the coast due to it's speed and massive expansion. 

     

     

     

     

    Hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from its center and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

     

    Florence will gradually continue to decrease its maximum sustained winds, but the significant 'weakening' in winds will come after Saturday, once the storm moves finally moves inland. 

     

    Once it moves inland, flooding will be a major concern for western South and North Carolina, including the Appalachians, where they can expect heavy rain until next Wednesday. 

     

     

    11 a.m.update: 

    The Category 2 storm was centered about 145 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 195 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Its forward movement slowed to 10 mph and top sustained winds dropped slightly to 105 mph.

     

    “Florence’s slow crawl toward the coast is concerning. It is going to drop incredible amounts of rain for days to come along the Carolina coastline. Life-threatening flooding is imminent,” Severe Weather Center certified meteorologist Brian Shields said.

     

    National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said there is nothing "minor" about this hurricane. Water causes the most deaths during tropical storms and hurricanes, and Florence is expected to cause dangerous flooding.

     

    Busy tropics: Florence Isaac, Helene, Joyce & the storm list could grow Thursday ​​​

     

    Graham said areas that repeatedly get hit even with weaker winds at Florence's edges could see heavy rainfall for hours. Storm surge flooding also could push 2 miles or more inland if Florence lingers for days along the coast.

     

     

     


    This track still has time to shift a bit north or south. but this storm is huge and its' effects will go well beyond its' center for many days. This system’s center still has a chance to rebuild, go through eye wall replacement and allow for slight intensification.

     

    Read more: Hurricane Florence has ingredients that make experts worry

    Scroll down for indirect impacts to Central Florida

     

    Florence will border the coast for at least 36 hours starting early Friday. Coastal damage will likely be catastrophic along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts. The life-threatening storm surge will also coincide with high tide at some point.

     

    "Life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern and central Appalachians late this week into early next week as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland, " explained the National Hurricane Center in their latest advisory.

     

    See the Latest: Watch & Warnings

     

    Impacts to Central Florida? Indirectly, yes!

    Central Florida will not be directly affected by Florence. There will be some collateral effects such as very large swells and high risk of rip currents. The highest seas will arrive Thursday, reaching 6 to 10 feet along the Brevard/Volusia beaches. There could be coastal flooding and some beach erosion farther north. The peak surf height will occur Thursday and gradually subside after Florence makes landfall.

     

    East Coast beach conditions: Wave heights & winds

     

    Florence will pull some dry air over Central Florida, which will limit thunderstorm activity only to about 20 percent to 30 percent. Any storms that do develop will be mainly late afternoon

     

     

    Threats for the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states

    Storm surge: A life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coastline of the Carolinas, perhaps through some parts of Virginia too. A combination of storm surge and tide will allow water to rush inland and flood normally dry areas. The greatest storm surge forecast will likely be from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay rivers where storm surge can reach 9 to 13 feet. From North Myrtle Beach to Cape Fear, a 6- to 9-foot storm surge is possible.

     

    Flooding: Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic for hundreds of miles as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland. Coastal North Carolina can receive 20 to 30 inches of rain. South Carolina, western and northern North Carolina could see 5 to 10 inches of rain with some isolated areas seeing 20 inches. Along the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states, 3 to 6 inches of rain are possible with some isolated spots receiving around 12 inches.

     

    Tornadoes: With the right quadrant of the storm likely to be focused over eastern North Carolina, some tornadoes could develop as the system moves in.

     

    Wind: Tropical storm-force winds will arrive Thursday evening to the Carolinas. Residents are prompted to finish preparations by Thursday morning. The winds will gradually increase to damaging, hurricane-force winds. Damaging wind could also spread well inland into portions of the Carolinas and Virginia.

     

    Large swells and dangerous surf: Large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast will continue this week, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents.

     

    We will continue to monitor Florence closely and bring you updates promptly on Channel 9, WFTV.com and on our WFTV apps. We have sent a crew to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to bring you the latest on Florence.

     

     

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