Hurricanes Florence & Hugo: Comparisons In Paths & Strengths

Hurricanes Florence and Hugo are getting a lot of comparisons these days, but Florence may be living up to Hurricane Harvey instead.

NOAA / Getty Images

Hurricanes Florence and Hugo are getting a lot of comparisons these days, but Florence may be living up to Hurricane Harvey instead.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in South Carolina on Friday, the first Category 4 hurricane to reach the region since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

While comparisons are natural between the two storms – Hugo proved to be one of the costliest in U.S. history – the storms have taken different paths and may have different impacts on the region.

According to the website TropicalWeather.net, Hurricane Hugo took a more “traditional” track for hurricanes – growing from thunderstorms off the west coast of Africa before organizing into a tropical storm over the warm Atlantic waters before stalking the Caribbean.

Hugo became a major hurricane cranking up speeds at 160 miles per hour when it hit the Leeward Islands as a Category 4, the website noted. It killed 50 as it moved over St. Croix and the eastern tip of Puerto Rico, before an upper air low over Georgia and a strengthening subtropical ridge turned the storm northwest into the South Carolina coast, per TropicalWeather.net.

The storm slammed into South Carolina with winds of 120 miles per hour fueled by the warm water for the Caribbean and caused more than $8 billion in damage, the Wall Street Journal wrote.

Hurricane Florence is currently maintaining winds of 130 miles per hour Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The storm, though, has taken a peculiar path to get to South Carolina, some weather experts told USA Today Wednesday.

According to a tracking map by The Guardian, Florence has taken a northern route away from the Caribbean, sparing those islands of damage. But it also allowed the storm to freely intensify in the Atlantic without the Caribbean “speed bumps” before reaching the United States.

“It was located farther north in the Atlantic than any other storm to ever hit the Carolinas, so what we’re forecasting is unprecedented,” AccuWeather meteorologist Marshall Moss told USA Today Wednesday.

In fact, Florence has drawn more comparisons to another storm that hit the Gulf Coast last year – Hurricane Harvey. Moss said that most hurricanes that hit the Carolinas move northwest. That was the path of Hugo, which went through Northeastern Ohio, into the Great Lakes, and onto Canada, according to a tracking map from The Weather Underground.

Floodwaters surround homes on September 7, 2017, in Richwood, Texas. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Hugo’s distinction was that it remained at least at tropical storm levels through that track across the Eastern U.S. and into Canada, per The Weather Underground.

Florence, though, is expected to behave quite differently, stalling near the Carolina coast, which many experts fear will bring catastrophic flooding to the region. Forecasters are predicting Florence to dump anywhere from 20 to 40 inches of rain through the Carolinas, USA Today noted.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour, but that is not what made the storm unique. It was downgraded to a tropical storm, hovered around the Gulf, and made a second landfall by the Texas-Louisiana border, CNN noted.

There, Harvey became a history-maker, dumping a record 51 inches of rain on portions of Texas during its unwelcomed stay, the broadcaster stated. Places like Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, were ravaged with 26 inches of rain over one day, with some estimating that the state was hit with 27 trillion gallons of rain by the time it was all over, per CNN.

Regardless of the comparisons – whether to Hugo or Harvey – Florence is apparently ready to make its own history when it makes landfall this week.