By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Hurricane Florence remains on course to strike a devastating blow to the Carolinas on Thursday – with a possible major impact in Virginia also – in what could be the worst storm to hit the U.S. East Coast in more than 60 years. The governors of the three affected states have each declared a state of emergency.
Already one and a half million people have been ordered to evacuate the East Coast areas most likely to bear the brunt of the Category 4 storm,” CNN said.
As of 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, Florence’s center had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and was about 950 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
IF evacuation orders are issued, it is VERY IMPORTANT to not evacuate INTO the impact zone. Florence may spread damaging winds and flooding well inland. If possible, consider traveling well south or west of the region. pic.twitter.com/RTjq5YXTnv
— Jamie Arnold WMBF (@jamiearnoldWMBF) September 10, 2018
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami reported that its reconnaissance aircraft found that Florence “has weakened slightly” but is expected to strengthen again later today.
Category 5 Hurricane: 150 MPH Winds
CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers concurred. “We do expect (the storm’s) eye to get its act together again later today and become that almost-Category 5 storm at 150 to 155 mph,” he said.
According to the NHC, Florence will produce between 15 to 20 inches of total rainfall across portions of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina through Saturday, with up to 30 inches of rain closer to the center of the storm. Florence may also create “life-threatening flash flooding,” the Center said.
North Carolina Counties under Mandatory Evacuation Orders
ABC Channel 11 in Raleigh, North Carolina listed the following areas where mandatory evacuations have been ordered. They include:
North Topsail Beach
Brunswick County (residents who live in low-lying and flood-prone areas or substandard or mobile homes)
Currituck Outer Banks (for visitors)
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
The worst storm to come ashore on the U.S. East Coast north of Florida was Hurricane Hazel in 1954. That storm registered winds of 150 mph when it made landfall in North Carolina. Nineteen people died and an estimated 15,000 buildings were destroyed. Twelve hours after making landfall, Hazel was in Buffalo, New York, and had ripped through seven states with winds still swirling at 100 mph or more. Hazel was blamed for at least 60 deaths in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York state.
Jay Barnes, a hurricane historian and author, told the Associated Press that Hazel was “a benchmark storm in North Carolina’s history.” With evacuations already underway across the region, Barnes says the damage Florence may cause could be notably greater than Hazel’s impact.