Hurricane Florence is set to make landfall along the North Carolina coast on Thursday as a major category 4 hurricane.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) is issuing hurricane and storm surge warnings for the Carolina and Virginia coastline along with regular updates on forecast winds and rainfall amounts. After the initial threat of damaging hurricane-force winds as the storm hits, flooding becomes a life-threatening concern. Storm surge flooding is expected to be significant along the low-lying coast of North and South Carolina and Virginia.
‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Florence approaches US east coast
Added to this Florence is likely to slow down as she moves inland through Friday and the weekend bringing a “prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event”, according to the key message from the NHC. Evacuations have already begun in North and South Carolina, where supermarket shelves have been stripped and petrol stations run dry as people prepare to escape its path.
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States of emergency have also been declared in Maryland and Virginia. Inland flooding will be exacerbated by the wet summer seen across several eastern US states. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has issued its climate report for the summer which shows record-breaking amounts of rain fell over the eastern US.
Washington, in Virginia, recorded 51cm or 20in of rain, around 200% of the average, making it the wettest summer in 73 years of data records. Cape Hatteras in North Carolina recorded 68cm or 27in of rain (around 170% of the average) again making it the wettest summer in 62 years of records. Rain from Hurricane Florence falling on this saturated ground will bring a widespread and severe flooding event. Isaac is likely to remain a strong tropical storm or category 1 hurricane this week as it continues westwards towards the Lesser Antilles during Thursday.
The concern with Isaac is that the storm may track towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as it continues west to northwestward over the Caribbean Sea. After last year’s busy and devastating hurricane season, these islands will be watching Isaac’s track closely. Meanwhile Hurricane Helene will remain out in open water but slowly weaken and drift northwards towards the Azores. There are signs that the remnants of Helene will affect the British Isles during the middle of next week with the threat of heavy rain.