BOSTON (CBS) — A very dangerous situation ahead this week for parts of the East Coast. Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a major category 4 hurricane as of noon on Monday. Latest forecasts have Florence making landfall in the vicinity of Wilmington, North Carolina Thursday evening/night.
This is a life-threatening situation for those along the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia coastlines. No doubt evacuation orders will continue over the next few days for cities and town up and down the Coastline in those areas.
Forecasts over the coming days are for Florence to maintain its strength or perhaps even grow a bit stronger. Ocean waters in its path are unusually warm, many buoys reading in the mid-80s, supplying the fuel needed to sustain or strengthen Florence in the next 48-72 hours.
It is hard to imagine the kind of destruction a cat 4 hurricane can create at landfall. In fact, there have only been four other hurricanes that were category four or stronger in our recorded history (since 1851) that have made landfall along the east coast north of Florida.
- 1989: Hugo, cat 4, South Carolina
- 1959: Gracie, cat 4, South Carolina
- 1954: Hazel, cat 4, South Carolina/North Carolina
- 1898: (no name), cat 4, Georgia
The most destructive winds will be on the north side of Florence as it makes landfall (combining its forward speed with actual winds), so those communities to the north of the landfall (within 50-100 miles or so) will bear the brunt of the wind damage and destruction.
The rainfall amounts are equally concerning. After Florence makes landfall, it is projected to head inland by 100-200 miles and then stall. Having no real Jetstream, fronts or steering currents to give it a shove one way or another, Florence will slowly erode from a hurricane to a tropical storm to a remnant low-pressure area while sitting and spinning nearly in place. This will produce massive rainfall amounts for parts of the Carolina’s and Virginia’s.
Several FEET of rain may fall over the span of 5-6 days until finally, what’s left of Florence, will be kicked out to sea sometime early next week. The flooding will be catastrophic. Rainfall numbers could approach state records (much like what happened with Hurricane Harvey in 2017 in Texas).
If you have family or friends in the path of this storm, please urge them to heed all warnings and NOT to take this storm lightly. This is likely to be a historic, unprecedented event for many folks down in the Carolina’s.
Thankfully, Florence will have very little effect on our weather here in New England. The main concern here will be for rough seas, very high surf and rip currents. Mariners and those planning to be at Sea or at the Ocean/Beaches later this week and over the coming weekend need to proceed with extreme caution and listen to all warnings given by the National Weather Service and local officials.