A major Hurricane, Florence, is likely to make a direct hit on the U.S. East Coast late next week, forecasters said in the latest updates. The biggest Florence questions now involve when, where and how strong.
Currently a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday Florence is expected to regain strength to major hurricane status (category 3 or higher) within three days, with further strengthening possible from there. That’s an ominous prediction for interests along the U.S. East Coast, considering several southeastern regions and states including north Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in the strike zone for landfall in the latest spaghetti models.
*Tropical Storm Florence is expected to rapidly intensify.
*At this point even if Florence doesn’t make landfall, it’s tracking close enough to the East Coast that in a best-case scenario it avoids land yet still becomes a sort of power-packed nor’easter. “…it is now likely that Florence will either make landfall or pass close enough to parts of the East Coast mid-late week, likely as a formidably strong hurricane,” the Weather Channel said today.
*The storm has behaved in an unusual pattern, insistent in moving west when tropical storms in its current location typically move more northerly, eventually out to sea away from land. But because its forecast impact is days away, interests have time to prepare.
Residents and visitors along the East Coast are naturally asking two big questions: When will Hurricane Florence hit? Where will Hurricane Florence hit?
Where: One expert predicted Saturday high odds that Hurricane Florence will hit South Carolina.
“It is becoming more clear that #Florence will likely make a landfall across the Southeastern U.S. coast, with the highest chance (today) over S. Carolina,” tweeted Dr. Michael Ventrice Saturday morning. He’s a tropical weather expert at the Weather Company. Ventrice noted that conditions could still change, leaving some uncertainty with the forecast.
“Nevertheless, this is not great news for the folks residing along the southeastern U.S. seaboard,” Ventrice said. “Preparations should start to be considered.”
The latest Florence spaghetti models obtained by Newsweek Saturday reveal high odds for the storm making landfall from the southeast to mid-Atlantic on the U.S. East Coast. North Florida or Georgia isn’t out of question, but the highest odds begin at South Carolina, running up through South North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic.
North Carolina has already issued a State of Emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. “While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a news release.
“Unfortunately, the previous scenario of Florence staying far enough out to sea to minimize East Coast impact is now very unlikely,” the Weather Channel said today. “The key to Florence’s path hinges on the strength and westward-extent of a dome of high-pressure aloft expected to develop and strengthen north of Florence over the western Atlantic Ocean Monday and Tuesday.”
When: The timing of Hurricane Florence’s landfall on the U.S. East Coast is critical because residents will want to prepare since the storm could be at major strength at landfall, forecasters said. Projections in the latest Florence forecast update suggest that landfall along the East Coast would be Thursday, perhaps early morning Friday. Tropical storm conditions could arrive Wednesday. It’s important to note, however, that timing that many days out is still hard to predict.
Experts at The Weather Channel said Saturday, however, that a Florence “strike on the U.S. East Coast is increasingly likely and “this may happen as soon as Thursday.”
The latest NHC path cone shows Florence remaining off the southeast coast early Thursday morning.
“The risk of other direct impacts associated with Florence along the U.S. East Coast next week has increased,” the NHC said Saturday in its latest update. “However, there is still very large uncertainty in model forecasts of Florence’s track beyond day 5, making it too soon to determine the exact location, magnitude, and timing of these impacts.”