Hurricane Florence is set to hit the East Coast this weekend. Thus far, five states have declared a state of emergency, including the Carolinas and Georgia. According to meteorologist Marshall Shepherd, hurricane Florence is the most unique storm he has seen to date. In an article for Forbes. Shepherd details Hurricane Florence’s unique characteristics.
As Shepherd, who has three degrees in meteorology from Florida State University and served as president of the American Meteorological Society before becoming a research meteorologist at NASA, wrote, Hurricane Florence is unique just by sheer size alone. The storm is an estimated 500 miles in diameter.
“The storm is larger than the states of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, respectively,” wrote Shepherd. He says that the storm will have a significant impact on the area surrounding the eye of the storm, so it is important not to solely focus on the exact location the storm touches down.
Not only is Hurricane Florence larger than most storms, but it is also “unusually strong for a hurricane at this latitude.” The storm has the lowest pressure this far north since Hurricane Sandy, which touched down in 2012 and caused billions of dollars in damage. Since 1851 there have only been five other category 3 storms that have touched down in North Carolina: “Great Beaufort-1879, San Ciriaco-1899, Hazel-1954, Gloria-1985, and Fran-1996.”
Most notably, Shepherd says that Hurricane Florence joins Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Lane as having the “potential to be a life-altering rainfall event.” Most statistics are projecting 2 to 3 feet of rain along the North Carolina coast, and 1 to 2 feet in South Carolina and areas more inland.
The hurricane is projected to slow down just before it hits North Carolina and will cause a “parallel coast” scenario. As Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted, “why is Hurricane #Florence getting stuck? Ridge to the east — ridge to the north — ridge to the west. Where to go?….. Storm waits for an opportunity or a weakness in the ridges — and takes it. Pushed south (!) to Savannah and then westward through Georgia.” According to Shepherd, the “parallel coast” scenario will cause a “sustained barrage of wind, storm surge, and rain for the coastal regions.”
The storm is also unique because of its impact on lightning. Shepherd wrote that the company Vaisala, who measures environmental occurrences like lightning, has registered 54,000 strokes of lightning since September 10 alone. He said that while the outer rings of the storm appear to be the most electrically active, activity in the eye of the storm could mean that the lightning will intensify.