Sep 13, 2018

Florence Downgraded to Category 2 Hurricane, Threat Remains

While Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, the storm should not be underestimated as high storm surges and flooding remain a risk

Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 2, flood risk remains
Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 2, flood risk remains

Read a Sept. 13 update here

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, but the threat of dangerous winds, storm surges and flooding remains. Storm surges are expected to be as high as 9 to 13 ft and the storm is predicted to cover North Carolina with 10 trillion gal of rainfall. In Wilmington, N.C., the area is expected to receive eight months worth of rain in the next three days. The size of hurricane force winds has doubled over the past 48 hours, despite wind speeds weakening from 130 to 110 mph, as reported by CNN.

“Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 ft. That’s the second story of a house,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. “Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks.”

As of 8 a.m. EST Thursday, Sept. 13, the center of Hurricane Florence was 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and approximately 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, S.C, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane is expected to make landfall the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 14, but the effects of the storm will be felt as early as the evening of Thursday, Sept. 13. While the high winds have raised tornado warnings in some areas of southeast North Carolina, the storm surges, coastal flooding and inland flooding possible pose the greatest dangers.

Millions of people have evacuated coastal communities along the Carolina coastline, but many have chose to remain and weather out the storm. In Carolina Beach, N.C., traffic has been cut off from the islands only bridge and a 24-hour curfew has been instituted. Officials estimate that 1,000 of the town’s 6,300 residents intent to stay and warn that rescuers will not be able to access them during the storm.

“Our sand dunes are healthy, but they’re not going to be able to keep back a wall of water like that,” said Carolina Beach Mayor Joe Benson. “Flooding is almost guaranteed.”

States of emergency have been declared in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland ahead of Hurricane Florence. All flights in and out of Myrtle Beach, N.C., have been canceled. In North Carolina, the Cape Fear River is expected to rise at least 20 ft and set a new record, currently set at 23.51 ft during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, for record flood levels.