Hurricane Florence is predicted to be far stronger than the four Hurricane Florences that have preceded it. The massive storm is currently ranked at a catastrophic Category 4 and as of Tuesday, its eye sits 410 miles south of Bermuda and 975 miles east-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina. As it sweeps toward parts of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, millions of people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas.
While evacuations and states of emergency have already been declared, the storm will predominantly affect Americans in the latter part of this week and into the next. The National Hurricane Center announced Tuesday morning that “life-threatening, catastrophic flooding and significant river flooding is possible over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states from late this week into early next week, as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.”
What to Expect Thursday:
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the earliest reasonable time that the tropical-storm-force winds will reach the south-eastern coasts is 8 a.m. The states most affected at this time are North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, but parts of Georgia and Florida will feel these winds as well. The National Hurricane Center also warns that from Thursday morning until Saturday the stretch between Edisto Beach, South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border is at risk for “life-threatening inundation from rising waters moving inland from the coastline.”
By Thursday at 8 p.m., the worst of the surge is expected to cover North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and parts of Georgia. These hurricane-force winds, shown in the chart below, will likely precede the predicated Friday landfall.
What to Expect Friday
By Friday at 8 a.m. Hurricane Florence’s winds will likely extend into parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Officials warn that Friday morning will also be when the storm makes landfall in the country’s southeast coastal regions. It’s expected that by then the storm will have weakened into a Category 3 storm, making a shift from “catastrophic” to “devastating.”
Florence’s slow pace is not to humanity’s advantage. Slowing down at landfall typically extends the amount of rainfall, resulting in disastrous flooding. This was the case with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. Meteorologists predict that over the next four days, North Carolina and Virginia will see 24 to 36 inches of rain.
Next week, it’s anticipated that threats of inland flooding will extend to Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia will also remain at risk for heavy rainfall and coastal storm surges.
For comprehensive information on how to prepare your home and evacuate, go to the National Hurricane Center website.