I follow a lot of meteorologists on Twitter. Florence has been all they can talk about, even with other storms in the Atlantic and Pacific. Most of the discussions on Florence have been about how she’s evaded forecasts and recently intensified rapidly. Fine for meteorologists. How about everyone else?
Here’s where we stand midday Monday:
HURRICANE FLORENCE SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST…1500 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 580 MI…935 KM SSE OF BERMUDA
ABOUT 1240 MI…2000 KM ESE OF CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…115 MPH…185 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…W OR 280 DEGREES AT 13 MPH…20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…962 MB…28.41 INCHES
That’s a statistically powerful storm. The numbers are only reinforced by the satellite imagery which shows a symmetrical pattern. Symmetry means there are no outside forces pushing at Hurricane Florence trying to rip her apart.
Buoys near the hurricane are reporting water temperatures around 84°. The ocean between Florence and the coast gets progressively warmer. Warm water is a hurricane’s gasoline.
Except for some wind shear near landfall the signs point toward Florence gaining strength. That’s reflected in the official forecast which peaks Florence at 150 mph.
The Hurricane Center put out bullet points with their last technical discussion. Wind is their third worry.
1. A life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the
coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and
a Storm Surge Watch will likely be issued for some of these areas by
Tuesday morning. All interests from South Carolina into the
mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in
place and follow any advice given by local officials.
2. Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged
and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over
the Carolinas and Mid Atlantic for hundreds of miles as Florence is
expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.
3. Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the
coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Watch
will likely be issued by Tuesday morning. Damaging winds could also
spread well inland into portions of the Carolinas and Virginia.
4. Large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East
Coast will continue this week, resulting in life-threatening surf
and rip currents.
It’s difficult to believe anyone will willingly ride out this storm on the barrier islands. The damage will likely be major, but loss of life will hopefully be zero.
Flooding is a different story. As Florence approaches the coast it will slow down. That means areas under rain will experience a long lasting deluge and areas near the coast will experience an extended time of storm surge flooding.
In the end, even with major damage near landfall, the biggest potential for grief from Florence might be inland flooding.
Hurricane Florence should arrive late Thursday or early Friday. Over those next few days she will have fits and starts as eyewall replacement cycles take place. Don’t fixate over static short term numbers. Don’t get your hopes up if Florence weakens. This is a major hurricane on the way to the East Coast.
We probably haven’t seen the last forecast correction either. Stand by.