The news regarding hurricane Florence is not good this morning. Satellite images show that it is gradually getting better defined and is likely strengthening as forecast. It continues to move off to the WNW towards the Southeast United States; swells are already impacting the coast.
Over the next 24 hours or so, the far outer bands will begin to reach the Outer Banks and will spread westward, bringing periods of heavy rain and an increase in the wind. The waves will get larger and larger with overwash becoming more common with each high tide cycle.
By 48 hours out, hurricane conditions are likely across portions of eastern North Carolina, with blinding rain, storm surge and down trees, etc. becoming an increasing hazard. Power outages will begin and could last for several days across the region.
All of these impacts will gradually spread across the eastern and southeastern portions of North Carolina, eventually moving in to northeast South Carolina. The rain will accumulate to record levels; it’s almost a certainty. Flash flooding (rapid rise in water levels due to fresh water) and river flooding will become a bigger and bigger issue, stranding people and flooding out homes and businesses. This will only get worse as time passes because Florence is forecast to slow down to almost a crawl.
The reason behind the slowdown is fairly simple. The large ridge of high pressure pushing on Florence now will weaken as it is being replaced by another ridge of high pressure which is farther west essentially. So instead of Florence being turned out to sea by an approaching cold front or trough, it will simply be waiting for another large dome of air to move it along, like an inflating balloon pushing on another inflated balloon.
Unfortunately, it appears that this will happen just as Florence is nearing the coast. It is possible that the center crosses land but if it doesn’t and remains just offshore over the Gulf Stream, then the set up is in place for an epic disaster the likes of which the Carolinas have never seen.
The constant pounding of the coast by wind and surge will be incredibly destructive. Each high tide cycle will bring a new round of flooding and damage to property. Many homes will topple in to the ocean.
However, my biggest worry is the freshwater flood that is looking more likely by the day. We’ve endured some major events: Floyd, Matthew and others. What we see in the end from Florence could far exceed anything from past events. The rain fall predictions are downright nightmarish; in some cases topping more than 3 feet. That’s 36 inches of rain that falls from the sky, not a rise in water levels because of the rain. That will be measured in tens of feet in some cases as rivers over flow their banks and flood vast regions of the Tarheel and Palmetto states. I hope I am dead wrong, I really do. But this has the makings of an historic event that will be remembered for generations to come.
As far as the astounding track that seems to be unfolding, let’s just wait and see how the next 24 hours plays out. The threat to the Low Country and maybe even the Savannah area is increasing but we need to see just what happens in part one of the saga: how close to the coast does Florence actually get on first approach. This, to me, is a huge piece of the puzzle for obvious reasons. Needless to say, everyone along the South Carolina coast had better prepare and plan on evacuating if told to do so by local officials.
I will post an in-depth video discussion on the situation after the 11am advisory package is released later this morning.
In the meantime, finish your preparations today. This is the last day of what normal looks like for many people in the coastal areas of the Carolinas.
Latest video discussion from 11:30 AM Weds Sept 12
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