Forecasters are saying that storm surge as high as 10 feet and rainfall totaling 40 inches in some areas could cause major flooding when Hurricane Florence makes landfall later this week. The storm remains a Category 4, with sustained winds up to 130 mph, and was moving west-northwest at 17 mph. As of 8 a.m. (ET), Florence was 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center expects the storm “to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday and move through early Saturday.” For the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the Southeast, this could cause a scenario similar to what happened during Hurricane Harvey last year, when the storm stalled and dumped nearly 4 feet of rain in the Houston area.
Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings are in effect from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, including Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. This includes Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.
Hurricane watches extend inland in the Carolinas, including such cities as Goldsboro and Lumberton, North Carolina. A hurricane warning is posted for Kinston, North Carolina.
Tropical storm watches are issued farther north, from the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Lighthouse, as well as for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, Virginia. This includes Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Storm surge estimates are 9 to 13 feet for the Cape Fear area, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers. A surge of 6 to 9 feet is expected from North Myrtle Beach to Cape Fear and Cape Lookout to Ocracoke Inlet.
The high-pressure dome that has been steering Florence toward the Carolinas is expected to weaken Thursday into Friday. This will collapse the steering winds for a while and reduce the storm’s forward speed “to a crawl” as its center nears the coast Thursday night into Friday, according to forecasters.
The National Hurricane Center regularly updates information about Hurricane Florence.