Florence’s lower category doesn’t take rainfall into account

Hurricane Florence NOAA update

Hurricane Florence NOAA update Spaghetti model shows potential paths of Florence

Masters estimated that storm surge caused at least $3 billion in damage, compared with maybe $1 billion for wind damage.

That might not sound as scary as winds moving hundreds of miles per hour, but it's what makes this Weather Channel demonstration so important - it shows what it would be like to suddenly become trapped in all that water. "For these airports along the coast, like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues". "Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances", the advisory said.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said.

That is, of course, if Florence stays on its current path and hits North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to creep across the coast from North Carolina to SC, drenching a wide area after making landfall late Thursday or early Friday.

And don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane.

The Category 2 storm was churning 110 miles southeast of Wilmington with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.

But what forecasters are keeping an eye on, in particular, is the forward motion of the storm.

The precipitation from Florence will start midday Thursday and then it will rain for four days, said CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater.More than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuations in Virginia and the Carolinas, where up to 40 inches of rain could fall. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

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As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" storm.

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon. Storm surge is expected to reach up to 4m, inundating coastal lowlands.

Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100 miles per hour (170 km per hour) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 mph (224 kph) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.

"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. "Most of the airports in the storm's path are smaller, coastal airports".

"The storm surge forecast with this storm has not changed", warned Brock Long, the head of FEMA.

According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the US mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians". The axis of heaviest rain may shift further south or west, but the extreme rainfall is going to happen. It could take several weeks to restore electricity.

But Florence will still bring gusts that are much more powerful. "We're about to be in the thick of it".

The bottom line is that damage from winds and the storm surge is likely to be more typical of past hurricanes, but the freshwater flooding still looks to create major property damage, which could lead to loss of life if residents haven't heeded the warnings of their local officials.

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