**11AM Update on Florence:
Last night the wind shear picked up on the southwest side of hurricane Florence. Yesterday, it had a solid eyewall. But the wind shear disrupted the eye enough to cause some weakening.
It has dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 2 hurricane as of 5AM with sustained winds dropped to 110 mph (5AM update below). However, it is still a formidable storm. The center was located about 180 miles southeast of Wilmington, and it has been moving northwest at a fast pace (over 15 mph). The hurricane is still forecast to make landfall near the Wilmington area early Friday morning. It is now forecast to make landfall as a category 2. Then it will move inland and slowly weaken over the weekend.
While the hurricane did lose some strength, it grew in size. The tropical storm force winds have extended out over 150 miles away.
Tropical storm force winds will extend all the way up into Hampton Roads. Today we’ll have some gusts to 30mph. Gusts will be to around 45mph over North Carolina. However, the winds will increase tonight into tomorrow.
Winds could gust to 45mph in Hampton Roads, 60mph over northeast North Carolina. Some of the gusts may briefly hit hurricane force over the southern Outer Banks or over the Albemarle Sound tomorrow. The winds should gradually decrease into Saturday. Then they should drop off on Sunday.
These strong/persistent winds will push in a storm surge. We could see a surge of 4-6′ along the southern Outer Banks (south of Manteo). It will be about 2-4ft from Manteo north to the state line. We could also see a surge of 4-5ft on the western part of the Albemarle Sound. Tidal flooding and heavy rain may create some really bad flooding over the southern parts of Bertie, Chowan, Perquimans, and even Pasquotank counties. For most of Hampton Roads we are lookng at more of a moderate tidal flooding event. The current forecast calls for about 5.5-6ft at Sewell’s Point.
The tide may rise up to around 6ft on Saturday morning. Then it should go down. Here is the forecast for a couple of other points:
There may be some major tidal flooding down towards the Outer Banks. There will be some big waves on top of the tide. This could get very rough for locations near Hatteras. There will also possibly be some moderate to major flooding up on the river systems in Hampton Roads. The easterly winds will drive the water in the Chesapeake Bay up into the rivers. So we may see some moderate to major tidal flooding there. The highest tide forecast for the James River is about 5.5ft tomorrow during the mid-afternoon. That is up to major levels. Here is a link to the National Weather Service with more of the tidal information:
So please keep in mind that even though the worst of the storm will stay well to our south, it will still be tough to get around the region tonight into Saturday. Some of the tidal surge could even be dangerous in some areas. So be careful trying to get around if you have stayed.
For rain…We’ll have 2-4″ north of Hampton Roads. 3-5″ for the Hampton Roads region. Potentially 5-10″ over northeast North Carolina. We could see some spots over 10″ south of or near the Albemarle Sound.
Just to re-iterate some of this info, here are a couple of graphics that we used this morning on-air.
We will be tweaking these numbers as we go through the day, but that’s the latest that we have. I may be able to bring the rain forecast down a bit, but we’ll see. The numbers we are putting out for rain are through Sunday. This system will interact with a stationary front that is currently in place.
Before I go…There are 3 other tropical systems over the Atlantic. Tropical storm Joyce formed last night. Here is the forecast for all 3.
None of them should impact the United States other than contributing slightly to our waves.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler