Think Florence is less dangerous because it is “weaker”? Think again…

Latest info-graphic from the NHC outlining the dangerous hazards expected as hurricane Florence approaches the coast Thursday and Friday.

Latest info-graphic from the NHC outlining the dangerous hazards expected as hurricane Florence approaches the coast Thursday and Friday.

Florence may have lost a good deal of its punch around the core or eyewall but believe me when I tell you, the impacts will be nearly the same. Sure, the wind speeds won’t be as bad but wind is usually not the issue when it comes to risk to life and property. It’s the water.

Florence will bring storm surge and possibly historic levels of rain fall and subsequent flooding to portions of the Carolina coast and areas well inland starting during the day Thursday. Now is not the time to relax – who knows, it could restrengthen again before landfall.

I have prepared a new video discussion which takes a look at Florence as well as TS Isaac. I’ll have continuing updates tomorrow.

Florence will be a long, drawn out process as pattern changes around it

Hurricane Florence on the morning of September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence on the morning of September 12, 2018

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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Olivia nearing Hawaii as we track Isaac and Florence

Hawaii is preparing for another encounter with a tropical cyclone as TS Olivia continues to move towards the island chain. The main issues will be the threat of flooding rains which could result in mudslides, flash flooding and road closures. It’s possible too that some portions of the islands will see tropical storm force winds which could result in minor damage but Olivia has weakened considerably and will continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Isaac is maintaining its strength just below hurricane intensity as it tracks westward toward the Lesser Antilles. It is possible that it will regain some intensity and become a hurricane again before stronger upper level winds halt development, just as it is moving through the eastern Caribbean.

And then we have Florence which has weakened just a bit overnight due to complex changes within the core. Warm sea surface temps ahead and fairly ideal upper level winds mean that Florence could reach category five strength at some point.

A hurricane watch and storm surge watch are now in effect from Edisto Beach, SC to the NC/VA border. The time to move preparations along is at hand and people within the watch area need to have those preps complete by sundown tomorrow.

I have posted my latest video discussion for this morning below. I’ll have another updated video discussion here this evening. Follow along too on Twitter: @hurricanetrack as well as our iPhone app: Hurricane Impact.


Florence intensifies to category four; may become a category five

The news is not good at all concerning hurricane Florence. The NHC reports that winds are now near 140 mph and additional strengthening is expected. It is possible that Florence could reach the dreaded category five threshold at some point.

The main thing to keep in mind for right now is that Florence will be an enormous hurricane with a huge wind field. This will push a deadly storm surge in to the coast as well as spread hurricane force winds inland a good distance. It is also obvious that the rain threat will be significant as well, resulting in another major flood disaster for portions of the Mid-Atlantic.

I have prepared an afternoon video update on Florence and the other systems we are tracking. I will post another video discussion and blog update tomorrow morning.

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