From Fox 5 Atlanta
ATLANTA – As the Carolinas undertake a final full day of preparation ahead of Hurricane Florence’s landfall, it is still a dangerous, category 4 hurricane. Strong storm surge, unrelenting rain, and extremely high winds will start arriving as early as Thursday with hurricane and storm surge warnings in effect.
“Concerns are growing for a large area of the South and North Carolina coasts, waiting on the arrival of Hurricane Florence. Main threats will be a massive storm surge, damaging winds and torrential rain over a large area of real estate beginning Thursday afternoon thru Friday,” FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist David Chandley said.
As of 5am Wednesday, Florence saw wind speeds come down slightly to 130 mph. That is still a dangerous, category 4 intensity. It was positioned 575 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, NC and moving west-northwest at 17 mph. Florence is forecast to strengthen some during the day Wednesday and slow in forward speed leading up to landfall.
The storm’s hurricane-force winds are extending up to 70 miles from the storm’s center, officials said, which has grown in area over the day. Tropical storm-force winds also have extended to up to 175 miles from the center.
Some weakening may happen before landfall, however, Florence is still forecast to be a dangerous, major hurricane through landfall.
A Storm Surge Warning is also in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.
“We are looking from anywhere from 9 to 13 feet of water from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout,” Chandley said. “And around North Myrtle Beach to Cape Fear, you’re looking at a storm surge possibility of 6 to 9 feet.”
Along with the threat of storm surge comes heavy rains over an extended period of time.
“Well over a foot of rain over a large chunk of real estate in the Carolinas and they had above normal rainfall this year, so the ground is saturated,” said Chandley.
The National Weather Service says more than 5.4 million people live in areas now under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast.
Another 4 million people are under a tropical storm watch. Assorted bad weather advisories stretched from Florida to Maine on Tuesday evening.
Those facing the most serious threat are in the Carolinas, as Category 4 Hurricane Florence barrels toward the coast, with an expected landfall Friday.
After landfall, the path becomes much more uncertain. Models are now indicating a drift towards north and middle Georgia late in the weekend as a weakening tropical storm. This would result in tropical rain and brisk winds – potentially tropical storm force gusts (tropical storm force winds are 39 mph or higher). Periods of wind and rain would linger into Monday. At this time, rainfall amounts for north Georgia do not look concerning. But this forecast is a notable change from a previously dry weekend forecast. FOX 5 Storm Team Meteorologist Joanne Feldman urges “it will be important to frequently check forecast update and always work from the latest forecast in your planning.”