Major Hurricane Florence could hit the U.S. East Coast as soon as Thursday evening and if it does, epic rain and destructive winds could blast through portions of the Mid Atlantic.
Beyond a potentially historic storm surge at the coast creating incredible floods there, heavy rain could create massive floods far inland, far away from the point of landfall. In the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, a NOAA precipitation map shows a large area where 10-15″ of rain can fall over a relatively short period of time. Such heavy rains could create life-threatening floods far inland to the Appalachian Mountains. Catastrophic flooding could even extend into central West Virginia.
While the details have yet to be ironed out, it is important that people take action to protect life and property even if the forecast isn’t locked down. If people are in flood prone areas, they should consider heading to high ground. Even those in high ground should look at the terrain around them; they could be isolated and roads could be washed away if flood waters surround them.
In addition to heavy rains, strong winds could whip up well inland too. Should the storm move slowly inland, as some model guidance has suggested, winds sustained at hurricane force level or greater could linger for a considerable amount of time as far inland as central South Carolina, western North Carolina, and central Virginia. At the coast, winds at or greater than 140mph could be possible, with some gusts in excess of 175mph possible too. As the future track is refined, the area expected to be exposed to the high winds will be refined too.