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Tropical Update | Florence now Expected to Stall on Approach to North Carolina

Figure 1. IR satellite image of  Major Hurricane Florence from 9/12/18 14:04 UTC.

There have been some major changes in regard to the track of Florence over the past day.

Track: Florence will continue to be steered to the west-northwest to northwest around the periphery of the Bermuda high through today, and will approach the coast of North Carolina tomorrow morning. After this point is where we have had a big change.

Figure 2. Latest forecast cone for Florence.

A ridge is now forecast to build to the north of Florence tomorrow rather than to the west; this will still result in a considerable decrease in little movement and/or a stall late tomorrow/Friday, but then a WSW to SW movement paralleling the coast or just inland this weekend instead of a continued movement into North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic. (see figure 2).

The takeaway from this is that there is still a lot of uncertainty in regard to the track of Florence, and additional shifts are possible.

Intensity: Nothing has changed with the intensity forecast for Florence.  There is a chance Florence could become a category 5 for a brief time, with eye wall replacement cycles continuing to be the only impediment to intensification. Shear will increase as Florence nears the coast. However, a category 3 or 4 is still expected is still expected to impact NC  and SC. There will be continued weakening while Florence drifts WSW/SW regardless of a track just inland or just offshore.

Impacts: There has been no change in respect to impacts, which will begin as early as tomorrow morning, when tropical-storm-force winds and squalls will begin to push onshore.

  • Surge: There will be a significant, life-threatening storm surge of up to 9 – 13′ on the east side of the storm.
  • Winds: Portions of both coastal North Carolina and South Carolina (and possibly Georgia depending on the track) will be impacted by damaging hurricane-force winds. It should also be noted that because of Florence’s sizable wind field (hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles from from the center) and the expected drift and/or stall, hurricane force winds could continue for an extended period.
  • Heavy rain: Because Florence is going to drift and/or stall,  a prolonged, life-threatening,  and potentially catastrophic heavy rainfall/flood event will unfold across SC and NC and possibly into the Mid-Atlantic (see figure 3).

 


Key Messages from the National Hurricane Center:

Figure 3. Key messages from the National Hurricane Center regarding Florence.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina.
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.
* North of Duck North Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina.
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* North of Duck North Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* North of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light Virginia.
* Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.


We will have an update on Tropical Storm Isaac and Invest 95L later this afternoon. 


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For an official, accurate weather forecast specific to your local area go to weather.gov and enter your zip code or consult your local National Weather Service.

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About Caleb Carmichael

Owner and forecaster at Gulf Coast Storm Center and Florida Panhandle Weather • Skywarn storm spotter • Not (yet) a meteorologist • Follow me on Twitter @WX_Caleb

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