Florence targets east coast, some uncertainty over weekend

By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team
September 12, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Hurricane Florence continues on a path towards the Carolina coastline. The 11 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center shows maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. It is still moving northwest at 15 mph, but is expected to slow down right before landfall. Slight weakening is also possible prior to landfall as Florence interacts with land and some colder water pulled up into the storm through upwelling. However, it will still be a powerful hurricane upon landfall.

It's important to remember that Florence's impacts are not confined to the forecast cone above. Hurricane hunters have found that the storm's inner-core wind field has expanded in size. Winds of 50 knots (57.5439 mph) extend up to 100 nautical miles (115 miles) to the northeast.

Forecast models are in good agreement that Florence will slow down and make landfall near the North Carolina and South Carolina border. Beyond landfall, there's still some uncertainty, which is why the forecast cone spreads out into Georgia and Tennessee on Sunday into Monday.

Hurricane warnings and watches are in effect for most of the North and South Carolina coast.

Life-threatening storm surge is a major threat along the coast. A storm surge warning is in effect for all coastal areas that are also under a hurricane warning. Storm surge watches are in effect in South Carolina from Edisto Beach to the South Santee River, and also from Duck, North Carolina to the Virginia border.

Winds gusts could reach 90 mph or more along coastal areas.

Florence will weaken after landfall. Though wind may not be as large of a threat, rain will be the biggest threat inland. Coastal regions could pick up 20-30 inches of rain or more through Saturday. But after landfall, Florence's slow movement will lead to freshwater flooding concerns.
Flash flood watches are in effect for inland portions of North and South Carolina. Forecast models are coming into better agreement that coastal locations like Wilmington could pick up more than 30 inches of rain. Parts of coastal Georgia, like Savannah, could accumulate around 9 inches of rain through the weekend.

With landfall estimated to be sometime Friday through Saturday, there is still some uncertainty as to where Florence will go after landfall. Some forecast models are hinting at a slight jog southwest towards the Georgia/South Carolina border before picking up towards Tennessee. Other models hint at a more southern movement towards Central Georgia. Despite the possibility of a slightly more southward trend after landfall, local areas will probably not experience any tropical storm-force winds related to Florence. Remember that models are not a forecast, and the placement of Florence's center after landfall will vary between model runs. We'll continue to monitor the storm as it makes landfall and over the weekend.

So far, the weekend is still looking a little drier as Florence will still be to our north. If a southward trend continues, rain chances may increase on Monday. Still, Florence is not a cause for alarm for interests in North Florida and South Georgia. The WCTVPinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor Florence's progress.

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