Wherever Florence Makes Landfall, Its Impact Will Be Far-Reaching

WILMINGTON, North Carolina — Forecasts generally have Wilmington, North Carolina, as the city most likely to bear the brunt of powerful Hurricane Florence as it makes landfall.

But no matter where the monster storm ultimately crosses the southern East Coast of the US, Florence’s high winds and heavy rains will hit communities for miles north, south — and even west. Damaging effects from the storm are expected to be felt far inland, particularly as it’s projected to stall once it crosses the coastline.

A big worry with Florence is that the system could linger for days, similar to the manner in which Harvey hovered over Texas last year. That means high rainfall totals and consequent inland flooding could become a huge concern.

The current forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for more than 20 inches of rain where the storm makes landfall. But more than 10 inches is forecast for a larger area, including most of eastern North Carolina inland to just north of Richmond, Virginia.

Live updates: Hurricane Florence latest developments

A new National Hurricane Center map predicting the likelihood of tropical storm-force winds stretches from northern Florida to eastern Kentucky and Ohio, and even up to the New York City area — although there’s only a 5% to 10% chance of those conditions stretching that far north. Tropical storm force winds have sustained speeds of at least 39 mph.

Also forecast for the region, according to the center:

  • Heavy rainfall — up to 15 inches — for much of northern Virginia and almost all of the state’s eastern half. Rainfall of up to 2 inches could extend as far as eastern Tennessee and up to western Massachusetts.
  • Life-threatening storm surges along portions of the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
  • Flooding from a prolonged, heavy rainfall could extend inland over the Carolinas and for hundreds of miles. The risk of flash flooding is 20%, or moderate, for the eastern third of North Carolina.
  • Large swells along parts of the US East Coast will spawn dangerous surf and rip currents.