Hurricane Florence is seen from the International Space Station as it churns in the Atlantic Ocean towards the east coast of the United States.
The “probable” forecast path for Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, as of 5 a.m. Wednesday showed the storm shifting further toward the southern North Carolina coast and the northern half of the SC coast, with the forecast cone stretching into Georgia, western North Carolina and Tennessee, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane warning: South Santee River South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. Hurricane watch zone is shaded in pink.
The National Hurricane Center says storm surge from Hurricane Florence could be up to 13 feet in some areas of North Carolina.
More than 1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate from the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered. Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.
Officials are anxious that the downpours caused by the hurricane could result in heavy flooding, like that seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017.
The NHC warned on Tuesday that the storm may strengthen to Category 5, with wind speeds in excess of 157 miles per hour (253 km/h), as it moves over a band of warmer water off of North Carolina’s coast.
The storm is on track to land a rare direct hit on the Carolinas, similar to Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into SC, near Charleston, in 1989.
According to the National Hurricane’s Center (NHC) 5 a.m. forecast, Hurricane Florence now has sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour (209 km/h) and is expected to get stronger before weakening slightly on Thursday. The wind speed will pick up significantly throughout the day on Thursday, but the severe weather and hurricane-force winds won’t begin until Friday. It remains an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday night. Clearly, though, some recent storms would qualify, most notably Patricia but also 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan and several others. It could reasonably occur anywhere between the mountains and the coast.
Florence interrupted her stay on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. “Far inland – where evacuees will be taking refuge – flooding and power loss are still a serious risk”, reports NPR. In addition, because the ground is likely to be saturated, trees will be vulnerable in strong winds.
More than 1.5 million people have been told to flee their homes as Hurricane Florence barrels toward The Eastern seaboard.
He added: “The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen”. Inland areas may be somewhat spared in this scenario.
“We have to be careful we’re not asking them to come back to Beaufort County through a storm”, he said.
To the north, most of Maryland is in the 4-10-inch range.
The new science is a testament to the growing ability of supercomputing to power simulations of the planet that show the future of massive features like the atmosphere and oceans, but still also maintain enough detail to capture smaller ones like Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. Eight dogs and 18 cats from a shelter in Norfolk, Virginia, were sent to two shelters in Washington to make room for pets expected to be displaced by the hurricane.
Many people in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic probably have not experienced a storm of the potential magnitude of Florence.