Hurricane Florence,
USA


On Friday 14 September, Hurricane Florence made landfall on the east coast of the U.S. as a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90mph. Over the weekend, it has caused widespread inland and coastal flooding in the states of North and South Carolina and West Virginia, affecting millions of people through loss of power and evacuations.

At its peak, the hurricane was 350 miles wide, achieving Category 4 storm status with winds exceeding 140mph and a minimum pressure of 939mb. Atmospheric patterns drove Hurricane Florence towards the east coast, with warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures maintaining the storm's energy.

Initial reports suggest that, although weakening to a Category 1 storm, Hurricane Florence caused storm surges up to 6.3ft on Emerald Isle in North Carolina. The city of New Bern, on the Neuse River, has been flooded by storm surges of 10ft. Heavy rainfall has accompanied the slow-moving storm, with some towns in North and South Carolina experiencing 2ft of rain in two days and totals forecast to exceed 3.5ft in places. This has contributed to fluvial and pluvial flooding across the states affected.

In Washington, North Carolina, the Pamlico River overflowed its banks and inundated U.S. Highway 264, disrupting connectivity between the river and Pamlico Sound. Cape Fear River’s water levels are at 50ft  and are expected to peak at 62ft on Tuesday 18 September.

Media channels have reported that 18 people have lost their lives, with over 10 million under storm watch and 1.7 million evacuated. Up to 3 million people may experience power outages which could take weeks to restore. Officials are planning to airlift food and water into New Hanover County in North Carolina as some of the area is inaccessible due to flooding. Flash flood watches have been posted in West Virginia as the rainfall continues to fall on saturated ground.

At the time of writing, Florence has been downgraded to a Tropical Depression, travelling north at 14mph with sustained winds of 35mph. It is expected to continue to produce excessive rainfall over the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England contributing to further flash flooding across the U.S. east coast states.

If you would like more information or to request our flood extents, please email our event response team.

Image ©NWS/NOAA 2018

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