The National Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Florence, which is on track to hit the Carolinas with tropical-storm-force winds as soon as Thursday, is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic.
Florence was moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph this morning, and a hook toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday. Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday, and move slowly through early Saturday.
On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas today, and approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph with higher gusts. Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Strengthening is forecast through tonight. While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft went out today to investigate the hurricane.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.
Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas:
- Coastal North Carolina: 20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches
- South Carolina, western and northern North Carolina: 5 to 10 inches, isolated 20 inches
- Elsewhere in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states: 3 to 6 inches, isolated 12 inches
This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding.