Hurricane Florence eyes Mid Atlantic

As we hit the climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, the tropics lit up like a match. As of Monday evening, the basin has three named storms: Florence, Isaac, and Helene. The National Hurricane Center is also watching another disturbance in the Caribbean Sea (Invest 95L) for possible development.

But let’s start with the giant elephant moving west-northwestward in the Atlantic: Hurricane Florence.

The hurricane’s max sustained winds hit category 4 status at noon Monday as it underwent rapid intensification. The storm still showed signs of strengthening as of the 5 p.m. advisory Monday. The max sustained winds increased to 140 mph with a minimum central pressure of 939 millibars.

The storm looked impressive on satellite imagery as it displayed “textbook” image: great outflow aloft, it’s 10-nautical-mile-wide eye, symmetrical structure – the works.

SOURCE: College of DuPage – Image from the GOES-16 floater of Hurricane Florence Monday afternoon.

The future path of the storm has become a tad more refined over the last couple of days, but there is still uncertainty on where it could exactly go. A ridge of high pressure to the north will be a big player on where it goes.

SOURCE: pivotalweather.com – The American GFS run from Monday morning, showing high pressure to the north of Florence.

The weaker the high, the more north it could travel, the stronger the high, the more west. But guidance has been persistent of wrapping the ridge around the storm, increasing the odds of the storm getting stuck in one area.

Even though hurricane-force winds go out as much as 40 miles from the center of circulation, many in the Carolinas and other locations in the Mid Atlantic will have to deal with gusty winds and very heavy rain. Coastal surge will also be a concern. And even before landfall, most of the Atlantic coastline will have to deal with higher surf and a high risk of rip currents.

Many are – rightfully – prepping for the storm in the region. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued by local and state governments.

It’s important for those that live not only along the coast, but for those inland, to be ready for Florence. Heavy rainfall – as much as 10-plus inches in some spots – is likely with Florence as the storm may slow down in forward movement. This will drop copious amounts of rain over the same location. Mountainous areas will have a heightened risk of rainfall as orographic lift may enhance rainfall.

Those in the Mid Atlantic need to be observant of forecasts from TRUSTED sources and follow evacuation orders from local and state emergency management. Now is the time to make sure your hurricane kits are stocked and ready, and you have what you need to ride out the storm. Ready.gov has some good tips.

As for the Big Bend and South Georgia, Florence could actually bring some drier air aloft. The drier air around the edge of the storm – as well as the northerly flow in the – may lessen the chances for rain during the weekend. Trends will have to be watched.