Hurricane Florence is spreading heavy rain and strong winds into the Carolinas, with landfall expected near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday, kicking off an agonizing crawl through the Southeast into early next week, producing catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds.
The eyewall, the worst part of Florence, is mere miles from pushing ashore near Wilmington, North Carolina in eastern North Carolina, only the beginning of what could be a record-wet siege from a tropical cyclone in parts of the Tar Heel State.
The eyewall will move extremely slowly across the North Carolina coast through at least sunrise bringing extreme wind gusts and very heavy rainfall.
As of 3 a.m. EDT, Florence’s calm eye was located about 35 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina, crawling west-northwestward at just 6 mph.
Extreme rainfall is already occurring in eastern North Carolina.
At least one site, located in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina and owned by the USGS, has received more than 20 inches of rainfall. A second observation station, located on Emerald Isle is not far behind.
Water levels continue to rise on the western side of the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, including a 10.1-foot storm surge in New Bern. A gauge in Emerald Isle recently recorded a 6.3-foot surge.
A storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, North Carolina, at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on the Neuse River, courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Winds are gusting as high as 99 mph at Fort Macon, North Carolina. Sustained winds are blowing at 73 mph.
Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) extend outward up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) extend outward up to 195 miles from the center.
Other Wind Reports
Wind gusts reached as high as 106 mph at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, late Thursday evening while a 105-mph gust was reported at Fort Macon, North Carolina.
Winds are gusting above 80 mph at times along the North Carolina coast.
Sustained winds of 79 mph were recently reported in Davis, North Carolina, while a 77-mph sustained wind was recorded at Fort Macon, North Carolina.
A gauge at Oriental, North Carolina, on the Neuse River recorded a water height of about 6 feet above normal tide levels late Thursday.
Atlantic Beach, which is a barrier island just south of Morehead City, had measured 12.73 inches of rainfall as of Thursday evening.
There continues to be overwash of the dunes at the “S” curves on Highway 12 near Rodanthe in the Outer Banks.
The National Hurricane Center noted late Wednesday that while Florence has weakened some, “the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size. This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm-surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid.”
Previous large Category 2 hurricanes have done enormous amounts of damage along the U.S. coast.
A hurricane warning and storm surge warning are in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. These warnings include Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.
Hurricane warnings also extend inland, including North Carolina cities such as Greenville, Goldsboro and Kinston.
Hurricane watches and storm surge watches are in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Charleston, South Carolina.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect north of Duck, North Carolina, to Cape Charles Lighthouse, Virginia, as well as for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, Virginia, and from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the South Santee River, South Carolina. This includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina……….Read More>>