Hurricane Florence: Heavy rains, catastrophic flash floods predicted as Carolinas brace for worst storm in 60 years
The Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and is already 500 miles wide
Category 4 Hurricane Florence, which is expected to strike North and South Carolina soon, will be the worst storm to hit the state in 64 years. Reports state that Florence has gained more strength than Hurricane Hazel in 1954. Hazel destroyed nearly 15,000 buildings when it hit the state over 60 years ago.
The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland on Monday declared a state of emergency as over one million people were ordered to evacuate their homes along the coasts before the "dangerous" storm makes landfall.
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday said that Florence maintained Category 4 strength at about 950 miles east south east of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The Center added that the storm has maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and is already 500 miles wide. Hurricane Hazel, when it made landfall on the North Carolina coase in 1954, had registered winds of 150 miles per hour.
"Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night," the agency said.
Officials said that they expect Hurricane Florence to produce between 15 to 20 inches of total rainfall across portions of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina until Saturday, adding that the storm may create "life-threatening flash flooding" with up to 30 inches of rainfall closer to the center of the storm.
Here is the latest 500 AM EDT forecast track and key messages for Hurricane Florence from the @NHC_Atlantic. Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches have been issued in association with major Hurricane Florence. #HurricaneFlorence #HurricanePreparedness #HurricanePrep pic.twitter.com/PcubmxWTkt— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 11, 2018
A hurricane historian and author Jay Barnes, while talking to the AP, said that Hurricane Hazel was "a benchmark storm in North Carolina's history," and added that, with mass evacuations in the state already underway, Hurricane Florence could potentially have a worse impact than Hazel.
"Today, we have thousands and thousands of permanent residents on our barrier beaches," Barnes told AP. "It's a totally different scenario with regard to human impact," Barnes said.
As Hurricane #Florence makes landfall, the storm movement will be a crawl. Models are showing monumental rainfall totals along the coast and just inland east of the eye's landfall location ... large area of 20"+ rainfall up to 40"+— Ryan Maue | weathermodels.com (@RyanMaue) September 11, 2018
Both ECMWF and UKMET show similar patterns. pic.twitter.com/owtHr1TIAr
A storm surge watch has been issued by the National Hurricane Center from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Reports state that coastal areas may see waters surge by as much as eight feet or more above ground.
"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves," the Center said.