STORM POTENTIALLY ‘HARVEY OF THE EAST’
❚ More than 1 million people flee the anticipated devastation ❚ States of emergency in the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, D.C. ❚ Rain may shatter state records from a hurricane or tropical storm
Although the focus on where Hurricane Florence makes landfall is drawing lots of attention, another looming threat could be the worst impact of this monster storm: disastrous, deadly flooding from days of relentless rain.
With “monumental” rainfall totals of up to 40 inches possible, “the rain from Florence may break all-time state records for rainfall from a hurricane or tropical storm,” Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said. It could potentially become the “Harvey of the East Coast.”
Although the storm’s winds will likely diminish rapidly after making landfall as a Category 3 or 4 storm, the heavy rain will persist as it stalls over portions of North Carolina and Virginia.
On Tuesday, more than 1 million people were evacuating the danger zones in the Carolinas and Virginia. The first rain bands could reach the area Wednesday, forecasters said, and hurricane-force winds could hit the mainland by Thurs-
day evening. North Carolina was the most likely target for landfall. Still, states of emergency were also declared in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
“All indications are that the storm will slow down and just crawl or meander over the inland sections and the coastal Piedmont,” Weather Channel hurricane expert Bryan Norcross said. “We don’t know exactly where the center will go, but it’s not really relevant. It’s more like a (Hurricane) Harvey situation, where it’ll just slowly wind down.”
Last year, Harvey made landfall north of Corpus Christi, Texas, then stalled over the Houston area, dropping as much as 5 feet of rain across the metro area.
“It will be worse than a Harvey in the sense that the terrain is not like Houston, which is flat. If you put 2, 3, 4 feet of rain over flat ground, you have a certain kind of problem.
“But if you put a foot or 2 – or maybe in some isolated places more – of rain over hills and mountains, you have a very different kind of problem, which is more dangerous,” Norcross said.
Several spots in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast had one of their wettest summers on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This includes cities in the path of Florence such as Wilmington and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia.
“Prepare NOW to evacuate you and your family,” University of Georgia meteorologist Marshall Shepherd tweeted Monday. “If you are given an evacuation order, please comply immediately before roads get clogged and chaos commences.”
“It will be worse than a Harvey in the sense that the terrain is not like Houston, which is flat.” Bryan Norcross Weather Channel hurricane expert
Angie Travis and her husband, Jeff, cover the windows of their vacation home Tuesday in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., as Hurricane Florence advances on the East Coast.