BLOG: Florence Takes Aim at the Carolinas

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Time is ticking away.  We are already tracking the outer cloud bands of Florence across the Outer Banks.  We will be tapping into some of the outer rain and wind bands starting tomorrow.

While it has weakened some, Florence is still a major Category 3 hurricane with winds sustained at 120 MPH.  It’s barrelling towards the Carolinas at 16 MPH.

Right now, this storm is expected to maintain Category 3 strength as it approaches Wilmington, NC by Friday morning.  Now here’s where it gets a little interesting..

It’s quite possible that Florence may NOT make landfall in Wilmington.  The latest track shows the hurricane brushing by Wilmington, then actually making landfall near Myrtle Beach, SC.  We still have to consider all possibilities!  The track has been shifting south with the last few updates, so that’s good news for us in Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina.  Good news..not great news.  We are still going to feel some effects, especially south of the Oregon Inlet.

We will be tracking very heavy rain, the strongest winds, storm surge, and possible tornadoes in the northeast quadrant, between Hatteras and Wilmington.

We could be looking at 8″ to 15″ with locally higher rainfall amounts from Cape Lookout to Myrtle Beach.  The problem is, Florence won’t just make landfall and leave – it’ll get stuck in a holding pattern, so it’ll have a few days to drop a lot of rain in this area.  Flooding will be a major concern.

We aren’t looking at crazy high rainfall totals for the Tidewater Region or northeast North Carolina, but between a decent amount of rain and tidal flooding, we are going to be a bit waterlogged.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Wind gusts could be even higher closer to Hatteras, potentially hurricane-force wind gusts (74 MPH+).  I would expect 2-4 feet of storm surge from Salvo to the NC/VA state line.  Overwash and beach erosion will also be a big concern.

3-5″ of rain is possible across the Southside, but if the track continues to nudge south, we may be able to lower those numbers.  Minor tidal flooding is likely during high tide at 12:30 PM Thursday and 1 AM Friday.  Moderate tidal flooding could occur at 1:30 PM Friday.  If you live in an area that is prone to tidal flooding, move your car to higher ground and make sure you don’t drive through flooded streets!

Things will start to wind down a little more on Sunday, but be prepared for wet and windy conditions from Thursday through Saturday.

-Meteorologist Ashley Baylor

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