Residents of states along the East Coast were all keeping an eye on the weather forecast to see if Hurricane Florence was something they should have concerns about this week. The storm, that strengthened to a Category 3 Major Hurricane again Monday quickly then made the jump to Category 4 as its wind speeds increased. It was expected to approach the East Coast as a powerful storm closer to the weekend.
Monday morning the storm was sitting in the Atlantic moving west-northwest at nine miles per hour, with sustained wind speeds of 130 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Due to Florence’s location in the Atlantic, it was difficult for forecasters to know exactly where it would hit later this week.
Five-day forecasts from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm likely making landfall as early as Friday morning in the areas of North and South Carolina. Those states along with Virginia would likely see the most direct hit from Florence. The forecast map showed that all three states were in the prediction area. Winds from the storm would likely impact a larger area along the coastline including other states up and down the coast but those in Georgia and Florida were mostly in the clear.
“The risk to Georgia and Florida is significantly less than it is to the Carolinas. It is unlikely that Georgia and Florida will see significant weather impacts. Virginia is likely to see some impacts, but not as great as in the Carolinas. Flooding rains may extend well inland and last for days,” Greg Postel, a hurricane and storm specialist with the Weather Channel, told Newsweek.
Florida—and all the way up to New Jersey—has at least a 5 percent chance of seeing the impacts of the winds as early as Wednesday evening with winds registering at least 39 mph. The storm was also churning up large swells in the ocean and causing “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” according to the NHC.
There was also a life-threatening storm surge likely along the coast of Virginia, the NHC said. While no storm surge watch was issued Monday, the NHC said it would likely be ordered Tuesday along with more detailed forecasts, days before the storm would reach land.
Though it is hard for forecasters to know exactly where the storm will make landfall, they could predict where heavy rains, strong winds, dangerous surf and storm surges would likely be. Monday the key messages around the storm issued by the National Hurricane Center included warnings about storm surges and dangerous rip currents.
The hurricane-force winds were expected to reach up to 30 miles from the center of the storm, while the tropical storm force winds were expected to reach up to 140 miles from the center, the NHC reported.
In Georgia and Florida, it was possible a small portion of the states would be hit by the edge of Florence, but there likely wouldn’t be a direct hit of the storm. No hurricane watches or warnings were issued anywhere along the East Coast as of Monday morning.