Residents of the eastern United States -- particularly the Carolinas and Virginia -- are bracing for a hurricane, as Hurricane Florence gathers power while forming over the Atlantic.
Florence’s maximum sustained winds are currently clocking in at 209km/h (130 mph) with higher gusts expected to come, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). While national reconnaissance aircraft noted this morning the hurricane weakened slightly, it’s expected to strengthen again later today.
At the time of this writing using the latest information from the NWS, the storm is 651 kilometers (405 miles) south of Bermuda. Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the region of the Carolinas and Virginia late Thursday or early Friday.
Officials urge citizens to evacuate
Officials in both North and South Carolina are urging citizens to evacuate inland, especially those living in low-lying or coastal areas. Anyone wanting to stay should prepare for strong winds, a deep storm surge, and rainfall lasting between 24-36 hours.
According to the National Hurricane Center and NOAA, “the deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge adn the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.”
Residents wanting specific information about their area are encouraged to listen to their local National Weather Service forecast teams.
"All the rainfall we're going to have, plus you talk about the wind — that means a lot of trees coming down, it's a lot of power outages, a lot of impacts with this system."
Those issues don’t even begin to involve the flooding, which could leave lasting impacts on affected areas. Florence is expected to drop between 38-50 cm (15-20 inches) of water with a maximum estimated as high as 76.2 cm (30 inches) of rainfall along the east coast.
"All the rainfall we're going to have, plus you talk about the wind — that means a lot of trees coming down, it's a lot of power outages, a lot of impacts with this system," National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said on Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center’s official advisory warning said:
"Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maxima to 30 inches near Florence's track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia, and northern South Carolina through Saturday. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding."
The storm could reach as far inland as the Appalachian mountains with heavy rainfall and potential flooding affecting states like Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
In just the last 24 hours, Hurricane Florence went through an “eyewall replacement cycle,” according to hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart with NHC.
"That's good news and bad news," he said. "It's weakened, but unfortunately the eye has expanded out to a diameter now of about 30-35 nautical miles."
"We're going to have a fairly stable, powerful hurricane with the potential for some additional slow strengthening over about the next 24 hours.”
Interesting Engineering will continue to report on the status of Hurricane Florence. Shelby Rogers is an IE writer based on the Eastern Coast of the US in Orlando, Florida.