Hurricane Florence has ingredients that make experts worry

Posted September 15, 2018

"Florence is a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale".

The National Hurricane Center said Monday the monster storm will be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday.

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, "is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday night" and has triggered a hurricane watch for all of North Carolina and part of SC, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane watch zone is shaded in pink.

The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.

The "extremely risky major hurricane" is predicted to hit the coast late Thursday or early Friday morning, dropping as much as 30 inches of rain in some areas and wind gusts in the 140 miles per hour range, says the National Hurricane Center.

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People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town. Forecast models suggest that more than two feet of rain could fall over the higher elevations of the Carolinas and Virginia, which would generate risky flooding downstream. In other words, this hurricane will basically stall - pounding the same parts of the Carolinas over and over again.

The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence's top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

AccuWeather meteorologists believe that Florence will reach the Carolina or Virginia coasts and pose a serious threat to lives and property late this week.

In coastal areas of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, heavy surf and elevated water levels are expected to arrive by Wednesday morning, and rainfall could begin by Thursday morning. "We all share the same goal and that is to take care of the citizens of Stokes County and protect as much personal property as possible". "Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC warned.

The hurricane center warned that the life-threatening dangers associated with the storm were three-fold: first, life-threatening storm surge along the coast, followed by freshwater flooding both along the coast and further inland due to "a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event", and damaging hurricane-force winds.

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Watches were already in effect Tuesday for a storm surge that could reach up to 12 feet at high tide on a stretch from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina, forecasters said. It could reasonably occur anywhere between the mountains and the coast.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, freeing up federal resources for storm response. Heavy winds are likely. "We are sharing information with local officials so they can prepare".

But while wind speed offers an easily quantifiable way to rate unsafe storms, forecasters are warning people not to fixate on that, saying that saltwater from the storm surge and freshwater from heavy rains pose a serious threat, no matter what the top winds are when the hurricane makes landfall.

From the livestock industry, one environmental impact from the storm could be from the lagoons, or lined earthen pits, that hold treated manure. Inland areas may be somewhat spared in this scenario. But that part of the East Coast rarely sees any major hurricanes. No hurricane has made landfall as a Category 5 in this region on record.

"Interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence".

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