Major Hurricane Florence to Bring Catastrophic Impacts to East U.S Coast
For the past week, Hurricane Florence has become the nation-wide center of attention- and rightfully so. After impacts from Tropical Storm Gordon finally came to an end, all eyes and ears turned to the Atlantic where a major hurricane is brewing. As of 5pm EST/AST, Florence has strengthened into a Category 4 “major” hurricane, with sustained winds of 140mph and higher gusts. The storm has a minimum central pressure of 939mb (standard sea level pressure is 1013.25mb!), and is moving west-northwest at 13mph. Below is a look at the storm currently.
Florence has been undergoing rapid intensification over the past 36 hours, and is expected to strengthen further over the next 24 hours to near- Category 5 strength, as well as continue to increase in size. Below is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale which is used to rate hurricanes by maximum sustained wind speed, which discusses the usual impacts associated with each rating. In Category 4-5 storms, “Extreme” and “Catastrophic” damage is expected, which includes the following: most/all trees blown down, roof failure, great structural damage/some complete building failures, and significant inland flooding from storm surge.
Major hurricane Florence will continue at a west-northwestward track through the next 48-60 hours, nearing the North Carolina-South Carolina border by 8am Thursday morning. Typically stronger storms (like Florence) make a sharper right (poleward) turn, but a developing upper level high will keep this from happening, and an East Coast U.S landfall is LIKELY as result. On its way to the United States, Florence will travel over very warm waters which will aid in the strengthening of the system.
CURRENT NHC (OFFICIAL) FORECAST TRACK
No watches or warnings are in place at this time, but those will begin to be issued by early Tuesday morning. A State of Emergency has been issued for both North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as Maryland and Virigina, as confidence is high for devastating impacts. Evacuation orders have been multiplying over the past 24 hours- PLEASE heed all orders!
Coastal impacts will be extreme to catastrophic from the near-category 5 storm:
150mph+ sustained winds with higher gusts
Life-threatening storm surge up to 18 feet deep
Significant wave heights of up to 50 feet causing life-threatening swells and rip currents
Inland impacts will be extreme to catastrophic into the Mid-Atlantic:
Tropical storm and hurricane-force winds
Life-threatening flooding up to 20-40” across the Carolinas and portions of Virginia and Maryland (will depend heavily on where the storm “stalls”)
Inland storm surge
Heed all watches, warnings, and evacuation orders
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