All eyes are watching “Florence” as it moves toward the Carolinas
A major hurricane is bearing down on the Carolinas today with millions of people in the path of destruction.
Hurricane Florence has exploded into a Cat 4 storm — now a 300-mile wide behemoth and still more than 500 miles offshore– and is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday on the North or South Carolina Coast with a storm surge of 10+ feet and winds of 130-140 mph.
From the National Hurricane Center:
At 11 a.m. EDT , reports from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the center of the eye of Hurricane Florence was located near latitude 29.8 North, longitude 71.3 West. Florence is now moving toward the northwest near 15 mph and this general motion, accompanied by a gradual decrease in forward speed, is expected to through Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas today, and approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday and move slowly near the coastline through Saturday.
The reconnaissance aircraft found that maximum sustained winds remain near 130 mph (215 km/h) with higher gusts. Florence is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some strengthening is forecast through tonight. While some weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is still forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast on Friday.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles .
The estimated minimum central pressure is 943 mb (27.85 inches).
Florence has been chugging across the Atlantic on a fairly slow and steady pace toward the American coastline, reaching very warm waters that have fueled its fury. It is being described as “a monster” that could drop 30 inches or more of rain in some areas as it is expected to stall or meander over land for several days.
A mix or mandatory and suggested evacautions have been underway and already the outer banks are being innundated by the start of a storm surge.
High pressure north of the storm in the Atlantic and another high over the Mid-Atlantic region are preventing this storm from moving northward.
The cone of probability could bring a diminished portion of this storm to at least the eastern end of Tennessee and lingering rain (1-4 inches) from Florence could move into the eastern half of the state by Sunday or early next week. Winds of up to 30 mph hour could also impact Eastern Tennessee.