Storm track migrating south, but potential hazards remain for us

By on September 12, 2018

A typical fall beach day was missing a component: People. (Pat Morris)

Forecasts for Hurricane Florence continue to shift the storm’s projected  track toward the south with some weakening as it nears the coast by Friday.

At that point, it is expected to stall, pushing wind, rain and storm surge on shore for two and possibly three days.

Wednesday’s 11 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm curving south before nearing the coast at the border of the Carolinas.

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By then, the Hurricane Center says, maximum sustained winds might be around 100 mph as Florence scrapes the coast, then heads inland.

Wednesday’s forecast was a significant change from previous outlooks, which warned that a major hurricane with top winds of at least 111 mph could cross onto land as far north as Cape Fear, 175 miles from Cape Hatteras.

But if Florence sticks to its reputation, more changes are ahead.

Coastal hazards remain, and inland threats are worrisome. Storm surge and wind are likely to push shallow sound waters into the mainland and up rivers as far west as Greenville. Risks of flooding are also high in Elizabeth City, Edenton and other inland towns.

“Life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding is likely over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states from late this week into early next week, as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland,” the Hurricane Center wrote in its 5 a.m. update.

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Hurricane Florence Wednesday afternoon. (NOAA)

Evacuation orders are still in place for Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties. Dare residents and property owners will be permitted to come and go until 8:30 a.m. Thursday, when authorities will start restricting  access.

Wednesday at 11 p.m., Hurricane Florence was about 280 miles east-southeast of Wilmington and moving northwest at 17 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 11 mph. Hurricane force winds of 74 mph or more radiate 70 miles from the center and tropical storm winds of 34 mph or more reach out to 195 miles.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings are in place up to Duck. Watches extend into Virginia. Hatteras Island should expect a storm surge of 4 to 6 feet, and northern Outer Banks beaches, 2 to 4 feet. For comparison, Hurricane Isabel, which cut a new inlet north of Hatteras, flattened homes and hotels and caused river flooding inland had a storm surge of 8 feet.

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The latest forecast from the National Weather Service office in Newport-Morehead City calls for 6 to 10 inches of rain and wind gusts over 50 mph in northeastern North Carolina this weekend.

Warnings about the risks of sticking around left most houses and condos on the oceanfront vacant. The beach road was deserted despite sunshine and warm weather. Government offices, schools and most businesses are closed. Activities and events through the weekend have been cancelled or postponed.

“Regardless of the exact track and intensity, it is clear that Dare County is going to feel the effects of a major hurricane,” Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson said earlier this week.

“Take precautions now and assemble or restock your disaster supply kit with essentials to sustain your family and your pets for three to five days. Have your evacuation plan ready to execute.”

Clouds, rain and steady breezes will probably start arriving here on Wednesday with landfall by the weekend. Surge, which is the water a storm pushes ahead of it, would arrive shortly before that.

Some overwash has already been reported as swells from the distant storm roll onto the beaches, coupled with an onshore wind and high lunar tides.

Red no-swimming flags have been posted on all beaches.

 

Comments

  • Jon

    It’s been so nice this week on Hatteras, surf, sun and no tourists.

    Wednesday, Sep 12 @ 8:47 am
  • dave

    “The sky is falling!” No, seriously, the sky is falling…

    Wednesday, Sep 12 @ 10:05 am
  • Anonymous

    and you wouldn’t make any money if it wasn’t for tourists

    Wednesday, Sep 12 @ 2:40 pm
  • Runnerguy45

    Serious questions must be asked like is it responsible to shut schools and business down starting on Tuesday when the storm is not supposed to hit till Saturday ?

    WAVY 10 has been saying it’s not going to be that bad and nobody should be comparing this storm to the big ones like Isabel.

    Wednesday, Sep 12 @ 6:53 pm
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