The impact of Hurricane Florence has begun, with the storm beginning its final approach ahead of landfall tonight or tomorrow and the rain and winds have already started in North Carolina, reported The Weather Channel.
With the storm slowing down, Florence is forecast to remain in the southeast past the weekend, bringing high amounts of rainfall and flooding with it. The rainfall has already hit the Tar Heel State, with the eye of the storm now visible on the local radar for the Wilmington, North Carolina, area.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the storm has lessened to Category 2, but is still very dangerous due to the large size of the hurricane. Analysts at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) recorded tropical-storm-force winds extending as far as 195 miles from the eye of the storm.
Winds from the storm have been felt as far away as Jacksonville, FL, which has recorded 10 mph winds originating from the storm. Hatteras is the town that is feeling the worst of the winds with 23 mph sustained winds accompanied by 39 mph gusts at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Beyond just the force of the winds that are hitting the Carolina coast is the force of the waves that Florence will bring, with the NHC measuring waves at over 83 feet in open water on Wednesday.
Do not focus on the wind speed category of #Hurricane #Florence! Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected. More: https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/eiD4c8pkRx— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 13, 2018
The big storm surges will come with the eye of the storm, expected to hit overnight Thursday, potentially in the early hours of Friday morning. That will lead to exceptionally high tides expected to go through several cycles. Even when Florence leaves the area, authorities have warned that higher water levels will persist for several days after landfall, emphasizing that all evacuation orders should be followed.
Especially difficult for the towns in the path of the storm is the threat of beach erosion that Florence will bring, with the storm surge certain to sweep away significant parts of the sandy beaches that line the coast. That could have an ongoing economic impact in these towns with several popular tourist attractions and restaurants built on, or next to, the beaches, which are potentially at risk of being swept away.
The first high tides in the area that Florence will be affecting are arriving now, with even Savannah, Georgia, expected to feel that impact with high tide forecast for 12:27 p.m. on Thursday. Waves in those high tides could be even higher than 40 feet, leading to storm surge warnings of up to 13 feet.