With more than 10 million now under hurricane warnings and watches, Hurricane Florence is now an “extremely dangerous” Category 3 storm, approaching the coasts of North and South Carolina at speeds of 120 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, with chances of 40 inches of rain in certain areas.
First responder teams from across the eastern seaboard of the US are preparing to deploy to North and South Carolina, Virginia, and other regions expected to be pummelled by Hurricane Florence. 3000 members of the National Guard are on standby.
Search and rescue teams, structural specialists, and swift water boat crews are expected to reach Virginia by midnight.
Florida Fire and Rescue teams are all heading to Wilmington, North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence.
The National Weather Service has stated that Florence will likely be ‘the storm of a lifetime’.
N. Carolina Governor, Ray Cooper, says Hurricane Florence is a ‘monster,’ and will be ‘nothing like you’ve ever seen’.
S. Carolina Gov., Henry McMaster, and other state officials urged South Carolina residents on Tuesday to heed warnings about the threats posed by Hurricane Florence, adding, ‘we are in a very deadly and important game of chess with Hurricane Florence’.
As of 5 pm EST today, Florence was about 400 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. Experts are concerned the hurricane could produce a disaster comparable to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in a part of the country that is famously difficult to evacuate.
Disaster planners with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Argonne National Laboratory simulated a fictional Category 4 hurricane barreling into southeast Virginia and up the Chesapeake Bay to strike the nation’s capital – alarmingly similar to the real-world scenario now unfolding on the dangerously vulnerable stretch of the East Coast with Hurricane Florence.
FEMA has concluded that 15-foot storm surge, up to nine inches of rainfall in some areas, downed power lines and widespread power loss would be among the devastating results of a Category 4 hurricane striking the Mid-Atlantic region head-on.
According to the NOAA, while hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating.
The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
- Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast;
- Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries;
- Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated;
- Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes;
- Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm; and
- Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.