BLOG: Buckle Up, It’s Going to be a Bumpy Ride

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Stay with me here – we’re going to get through this.

Florence is back to hurricane strength with winds sustained at 85 MPH.  It’s continuing on a westerly track toward the US.

Florence is expected to rapidly gain strength over the next 24 to 48 hours.  By tomorrow afternoon, Florence could become a MAJOR hurricane with winds picking up to 120 MPH.

From Monday into Tuesday, this storm will likely become a Category 4 hurricane with winds sustained at 145 MPH, then increasing to 150 MPH by Wednesday.  Lets take this out to Thursday, when Florence is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Wilmington, NC.

This will be the first time a major hurricane has made landfall in North Carolina since Hurricane Fran in 1996.  This track (shown here) is the National Hurricane Center track, which is pretty in line with the European model.  You’ll notice Hampton Roads is just outside of the cone of uncertainty when it comes to initial landfall.  Hampton Roads does get into the cone once the storm moves onshore.

I think there is still the possibility Florence may maintain hurricane strength once it moves towards the Raleigh/Durham area.

Our spaghetti models stay pretty consistent from now through Thursday and as I’ve been saying, ad nauseam, consistency builds confidence [in the forecast].

Now you’ll notice the light blue line that says CMC and the turquoise line that says ANVO.  The ANVO is the American model (GFS).  The latest run of the GFS shows Florence never making landfall – just meandering off the coast for several days.  THAT would be a worst-case scenario for us.  As I mentioned before, the European model shows Florence making landfall near Wilmington.  While, a major hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas is not ideal, it would actually be a slightly better scenario for Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina.

Here’s why:

If you recall, with Hurricane Isabel, it wasn’t the rain that was the major problem, it was the fact the ground was already saturated, so it didn’t take much wind to bring down thousands trees and power lines.  We could be staring at the same situation.  If the GFS comes to fruition, then we would see 60-70 MPH winds along the Outer Banks for days.  In addition to driving rain, we would get several inches of rain, mostly across the Southside and North Carolina.  Honestly, I’m a tad more hopeful for the NHC/European tracks.

**UPDATE: The latest run of GFS showed more of a landfall scenario, so we’ll see if that holds out over the next couple of model runs.  Again, we are looking for some consistency.  Either way, we couldn’t rule out the possibility of a holding pattern with Florence.

The timing of this will be from late Thursday through Sunday.  That’s actually decent stretch of time to be dealing with rain and wind.

I know I didn’t touch on Tropical Storm Isaac or Hurricane Helene, but only because those storms don’t pose a threat to us right now.  I have to worry about what is directly in front of us!

So stock up, fill up, and clean up between now and Wednesday.  We’ll have every advisory from the NHC on WAVY.COM, Facebook, and Twitter!

-Meteorologist Ashley Baylor

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