Hurricane Florence Threatens North Carolina....High Impact Weather Briefing

Chief Meteorologist Chris White -  8:30pm Sunday September 9, 2018

Good Evening.  Here is our first High Impact Weather Outlook for Hurricane Florence and it's potential impact on our coverage area. 

Hurricane Florence still has some dry air wrapped up in the core of the storm and that has inhibited it from strengthening rapidly today.  The National Hurricane Center does indicate rapid intensification of Florence Monday and Tuesday.  Since the storm is currently weaker, the the storm has stayed a hair south.  Today we have really set the GFS model as the outlier model.  It is the only model that has taken the storm off shore and stalled it just East of Hatteras.  While not totally out of the question that occurs it is certainly less than a 5% chance of it re-curving out to sea.  The hurricane models and the European model in good agreement of a landfall between the NC/SC line and Morehead City.  Most of the models indicate a Wilmington landfall Thursday Afternoon as a major category 4 hurricane.

For our area across the foothills it is time to prepare for the storm as well.  Tropical storm force winds could surge into our area Thursday Afternoon and Evening.  That's right, well ahead of the storm.  The next problem is going to be the rainfall.  There could be significant rainfall across our area that would cause flooding.  Right now the greatest threat is up that Hwy 321 and Hwy 16 Corridor from Lincoln, Catawba, into Alexander Counties.  That doesn't mean that folks in our southern and western counties should let their guard down.  Heavy rainfall is possible for those areas as well. 


A very strong high pressure ridge over the Northern Atlantic is forcing Florence South and West.  Florence missed the trough that was originally forecast to pick it up and take it out back out to sea east of Bermuda late last week.  It starting growing concern for this setup we have developing now.  A cold front over our area today stalled along roughly Interstate 85.  That front will wash out.  Monday and Tuesday the high pressure ridge will strengthen further and force Florence to pick up speed as he moves West.  The current cold front over our area will wash out Wednesday and another will approach from the NW.  At the same time Wednesday Florence will slow it's forward speed due to that advancing front and high pressure that moves in behind it.  Florence should also be moving Northwest by Wednesday.  The cold front moves into our area and stalls.  The cold front will be a focal point for showers and storms on Wednesday and with winds shifting to the Southeast ahead of that front upslope flow rainfall becomes a concern.  The cold front washes out over us and high pressure will build over the Ohio Valley.  This means another roadblock for Florence advancing on through the area.  Florence in turn could move inland and stall over the Western Carolina's and Virginia bringing the inland significant flood risk.  It is too soon still to pinpoint exactly where that would set up to be the worst but everyone needs to stay abrest of the changing forecast. 

The bottom line is that now is the time to prepare for winds that could cause extended power outages and rainfall that could cause significant flooding.  It is too early to post model guidance still because it is rapidly evolving now.  The GFS is trending toward the European and the hurricane models now too.  That is for a landfall between the SC/NC State Line and Morehead City.