11 PM UPDATE FROM THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER:
Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 1 storm with winds sustained at 90 MPH.
It is still expected to make landfall near Wilmington early Friday morning. The main threat continues to be rain and flooding. Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler and Meteorologist Deitra Tate will have updates and impacts starting at 4 AM!
Just because Florence has weakened and is barely hanging on as a Category 2 hurricane, doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. The rain and flooding will still be catastrophic for parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. Will this be a blockbuster storm for Hampton Roads? No, but it’s already a big headache. Our main concern will be rain and tidal flooding through Sunday..possibly Monday.
We started to tap into the outer cloud bands of Florence yesterday, then the rain bands moved in this morning. We have to watch those heavy rain bands – that’s where you could see the higher rainfall totals and the potential for flash flooding.
In addition to rain, wind, and storm surge, parts of the Outer Banks could also see some waterspouts spin up. Waterspouts can move on land and cause serious damage. A TORNADO WATCH will remain in effect for Dare Co. through 9 PM.
Lets talk about track. Florence will either be a weak Category 2 or strong Category 1 hurricane as it makes landfall near Wilmington, NC Friday morning.
As Florence moves inland, it’ll continue to weaken due to the friction of the land.
It’ll pass between Columbia and Charleston, SC as a tropical storm, then take a sharp turn north and get picked up by the jet stream. By Sunday, Florence will likely be a remnant low and as it turns north, but we could still be dealing with rain associated the storm through Monday or even Tuesday.
TIMING: From now through Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, you’ll notice the winds backing off by Saturday afternoon.
EFFECTS WHERE YOU LIVE:
As I said, we have to watch those heavy rain bands because that’s where you will see the higher rainfall amounts and possible flash flooding. NC-12 in Hatteras is already closed due to flooding and over wash. In addition to 2-4′ storm surge from Salvo to the NC/VA state line, we could see storm surge even into the western part of the Albemarle Sound.
We certainly won’t see as much rain in the Tidewater region, but tidal flooding remains a big concern.
High tide will come back up around 1 AM. Water levels are expected to crest around 5.3′, indicating minor tidal flooding. The worst of the tidal flooding could be Friday afternoon around 1:30 PM when the water hits around 5.8′, indicating moderate tidal flooding.
How does this compare with other storms?
Hurricane Isabel – 7.9′
Hurricane Irene – 7.55′
Hurricane Matthew – 5.73′
Keep in mind, with Matthew, it wasn’t just the tide causing flooding, it was a significant amount of rain as well.
We’ll keep you updated as things continue to ramp up over the next 12-24 hours.
-Meteorologist Ashley Baylor