Hurricane Florence to Bring Unprecedented Flooding & Historic Rainfall

Hurricane Florence, a dangerous Category 3 storm, is expected to bring catastrophic flooding, with drenching rains that could last for days and potentially release more than 40 inches of rain in North Carolina alone.

The National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina warned residents on Wednesday that the rainfall could be historic and the flooding unprecedented.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,” a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, North Carolina said. “I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

With new forecasts showing the storm becoming more of a southerly threat, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has joined Virginia, North and South Carolina in declaring a state of emergency, but did not immediately order evacuations.

“I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence,” Deal said.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for the Carolinas and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid, ABC News reports. He touted that the government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence, and urged people to get out of the way of the storm.

“Don’t play games with it. It’s a big one,” Trump said.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday evening, the storm’s eye was approximately 335 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast on Friday and linger for a while before coming ashore.

via Alexander Gerst/Twitter

The shift in the protected track spread concerns to areas that once thought they were safe.

Meteorology director Jeff Masters at the private Weather Underground says Florence will come “roaring up to the coast” and “say ‘I’m not sure I really want to do this, and I’ll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland.’”

According to The Huffington Post, more than 1.7 million people in Virginia and the Carolinas were warned to evacuate on Tuesday, and airlines had cancelled nearly 1,000 flights at that point.

“Today is your last day to get out of the areas that have been placed under evacuation orders,” Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said. “If you don't do it now, your time is going to be running out. And once the impacts of this storm start to come in, it's going to be very difficult for first responders to get to you.”

Duke Energy, one of the nation’s top power companies, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and these outages could last for weeks. The power company said it is bringing in workers from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm’s aftermath.

Forecasters worry the storm’s damage will be significantly worse if it lingers on the coast.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says the storm could be “exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge.” McNoldy says “the rainfall has been and continues to be a very substantial threat over the entire area.”