Hurricane Florence will slam into the Carolinas on Thursday, and its effects could be catastrophic for certain areas – not only on the coast, but inland as well.
The threat of Hurricane Florence to the coastal areas of the Carolinas cannot be understated. It will make landfall Thursday as a massive Category 4 storm, bringing with it destructive winds and life-threatening storm surges.
The entire coast of North Carolina and most of the coast of South Carolina are under a hurricane watch and storm surge watch. Watches like these man that conditions could be life-threatening and that last-minute preparations could be difficult due to tropical force winds arriving early.
As of Tuesday morning, Florence was still 900 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, on a west-northwestward trajectory. The storm intensified rapidly from Sunday to Monday with wind speeds picking up from 75 mph to 130 mph.
There is a chance that Florence could reach Category 5 for a time before slamming into the East Coast, but forecasters believe that it will weaken some before making landfall.
Beaches in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Hispañiola, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas facing Florence will experience swells that will produce life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Because of saturated ground conditions in parts of the Eastern US after a rainy summer, Hurricane Harvey levels of rainfall aren’t needed to produce major flash flooding and river flooding. The mountainous terrain of the Appalachians makes runoff and river flooding, in particular, a threat.
Parts of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina could see isolated maximum rainfall amounts of up to 30 inches. Making conditions worse, the storm surge pushed inland by Hurricane Florence will impede swollen rivers from draining into the ocean.
Another threat from saturated soil are downed trees, which may lead to more power outages in affected areas. Mud and rockslides are more likely in higher terrain, such as the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina.
According to the National Hurricane Center, over a quarter of all US deaths associated with hurricanes and tropical storms are from flooding – three times higher than deaths due to destructive winds.