Early this morning, Hurricane Florence made landfall on North Carolina’s coast, bringing with it 90 mph winds, flooding, and devastating storm surge. As this storm continues to stall and batter the Carolinas, here’s what has happened overnight and what we can expect going forward.
This is your Friday Morning Briefing.
Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall:
This morning at about 7:15 a.m., Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, NC, just east of Wilmington, as a Category 1 hurricane. Despite only just moving onshore, its impacts are already visible. Overnight, low lying areas have seen catastrophic flooding, and as surges and rain continue to barrage the Carolina coast. Throughout the morning it is only expected to worsen. Late Thursday night, New Bern, NC reported storm surges of over 10 feet. At this height, cars, small structures, and one-story buildings can be easily destroyed and taken away with the current. In parts of eastern North Carolina, rainfall rates have been as high as 2 inches an hour. Flooding along the North Carolina coast, especially near rivers, has already reached over a foot and is expected to increase to over 2 feet, with danger especially amplified during high tide.
A reported near-500,000 customers have already lost power in both North and South Carolina, and it’s anticipated that 1-3 million homes and businesses will lose power as the storm stalls and continues throughout the day. The Jacksonville, NC government reported the evacuation of more than 60 occupants of a hotel after portions of the roof had collapsed and structural integrity of the building had been compromised by the storm.
With sustained winds still around 90mph, this continues to be a powerful storm that won’t be moving out of the area anytime soon. A gust of 105 mph observed at Wilmington National Airport this morning breaks the record set in 1960 by Hurricane Donna. The hurricane was last officially reported moving at about 6 mph, and will slow more as it continues along the coast. Weak steering will keep Florence over the Carolinas until a region of high pressure is expected to build northeast of the storm. This will slowly turn it north and northwestward by the end of the weekend. Until then, Florence will slowly trek down the coast of North and then South Carolina, continuing to batter these areas with heavy rain and wind until midday Sunday when it finally takes a turn. Until then, we can only hope for the safety of anyone in those areas while we keep track of how this devastating storm progresses.
Featured image credit: NASA