Hurricane Florence makes landfall, life-threatening surge
Friday, September 14, 2018, 8:41 AM - Hurricane Florence has made landfall and is swamping the Carolinas with rain, wind and rising floodwaters as the massive storm crawls along the coast, threatening millions of people with record rainfall and punishing surf. A gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina was already recording 10 FEET of inundation early Friday.
(TRACKING FLORENCE: Stay with The Weather Network online and on T.V. for our exclusive coverage of the storm. Stormhunters Jaclyn Whittal and Mark Robinson will be LIVE in the Carolinas with the latest)
DOWNGRADED BUT DANGEROUS
Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Thursday evening with a slow westward motion expected as the centre moves across southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina on Friday and Saturday.
"Do not focus on the wind speed category of Hurricane Florence! Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected," warns the U.S. National Hurricane Center, adding that North Carolina would see the equivalent of up to eight months of rain in a two to three day period.
Florence will move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week. More on what's ahead for Hurricane Florence, and the three other named storms in the Atlantic, below.
- Hurricane Florence causing life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds as it makes landfall in North Carolina
- Over 400,000 outages reported in North Carolina alone
- Catastrophic freshwater flooding expected over portions of North and South Carolina
- 1 million+ under mandatory evacuation orders in North, South Carolina
WATCH BELOW: FLORENCE LANDFALL, EYEWALL COMES ON SHORE
Hurricane Florence slowed to a crawl as it approached the coast of North Carolina Thursday and remained just offshore in the overnight, continuously lashing the coastline with storm surge, powerful winds and heavy rain with its outer bands. Florence finally made landfall Friday morning around 7 a.m. between Wilmington and Topsail Beach, N.C., as a high-end Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 145 km/h.
The relentless and focused northeasterly winds on the north edge of Florence forced storm surge far inland Thursday night into Friday along rivers that feed into the ocean. New Bern, a river-side community near the Outer Banks reported over 10 feet of inundation and over 100 residents are still waiting to be rescued by emergency officials as their homes submerged.
(COMING SOON: 2018 FALL FORECAST AND A SNEAK PEEK AT WINTER. DON'T MISS THIS ALL DAY EVENT ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17)
Throughout its colourful and lengthy past, Florence churned the sea to staggering heights after reaching a Category 4 storm... twice. It's known that with large and long-lived storms, waves are given the time to strengthen and build around the storm, meaning rip currents and pounding surf can and will be felt over thousands of kilometres away from Florence all along the eastern seaboard and into the Caribbean. Dangerous and life-threatening storm surge will continue to pound the coast and rush inland through North and South Carolina on Friday, with the Carolina coast experience heightened surge with high tide once again tonight.
Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers are forecast to experience 7-11 feet of storm surge, locally higher, but surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances.
As the feeder bands spiraling around Florence pivot inland, the threat for tornadoes rises in eastern North Carolina. Apart from the surge, hurricane-force winds and tornado threat, constant rain, torrential at times, will continue to pour over North and South Carolina. Florence is forecast to drift into South Carolina Saturday, potentially maintaining its hurricane status, with flooding rains and powerful, sustained winds. Friday, unfortunately, marks the beginning of what will be a prolonged, catastrophic rain event for the Carolinas.
THE BIGGEST ISSUE WITH FLORENCE
Contrary to what you might expect, it's not the winds that are the deadliest with hurricanes, it's the flooding. And the inland and river flooding with Florence could reach truly historic levels as the storm stays the course over the weekend and into next week. When even conservative estimates for rainfall with a storm run at more than 300 mm, you know you're in for a rough time.
Official amounts are forecast to vary from 20-30 inches for the coasts of The Carolinas, with localized amounts exceeding 40 inches. That's over a meter -- or close to 3.5 feet -- of rain. Beginning Sunday, Florence will lift northward, taking a track across the southern and central Appalachians,
WATCH BELOW: THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STAYING BEHIND
With most of the immediate attention going to Florence, we can't lose sight of Helene, Isaac, Joyce and the potential for a system in the Gulf of Mexico. In total, there are 4 named storms in the Atlantic, something that has not happened simultaneously in 10 years.
WATCH BELOW ACTIVE ATLANTIC: THERE ARE FOUR NAMED STORMS
While Helene and Joyce will remain well out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Isaac charged through the Lesser Antilles on Thursday, tracking toward Central America parallel to the northern coast of South America. Forecasters are also watching for the potential development of another system in the Gulf of Mexico to become a tropical depression, which would bring heavy rain to Texas over the weekend.
Stay with us here at The Weather Network as we track the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.