These 5 reasons make Hurricane Florence extremely dangerous

Even by major hurricane standards, Florence is a beast like no other.The National Weather Service cal...

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 8:56 PM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 8:56 PM

Even by major hurricane standards, Florence is a beast like no other.

The National Weather Service calls it a "storm of a lifetime" -- and for good reason.

Accidents, disasters and safety

Chad Myers

Continents and regions

Europe

Florence

Hurricane Florence

Hurricanes

Italy

Misc people

Natural disasters

Severe weather

Southern Europe

Tropical storms

Weather

Coastal areas

Environment and natural resources

Landforms and ecosystems

Earth sciences

Meteorology

Science

North America

North Carolina

Southeastern United States

The Americas

United States

Floods and flooding

Sign up for Hurricane Florence emails for the latest on the storm

A perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence will likely be catastrophic for parts of the Southeast. Here's what makes this hurricane so unusual:

1. Its marathon attack

Around the same time Florence makes landfall, the steering winds pushing it forward will die down. In other words, this hurricane will basically stall -- pounding the same parts of the Carolinas over and over again.

From late Thursday through early Sunday, Florence will travel "literally slower than a walking pace (2 to 3 mph on average)," CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

As a result, the coastal Carolinas will suffer more than 24 hours of hurricane-force winds and storm surge, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

This kind of long-term attack portends severe destruction. While a fast-traveling hurricane might blow off some shingles, a relentless onslaught such as this could easily blow off roofs or destroy houses.

"It's cumulative damage," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. "If you're blowing 100 or 120 mph on homes, they're going to start to deteriorate. So will the trees. So will the power lines, as the trees fall down."

2. The span of its hurricane-force winds

The area covered by Florence's hurricane-force winds has doubled -- meaning far more people will get blasted with winds 74 mph or greater.

On Tuesday, hurricane-force winds stretched 40 miles out from the center, Miller said. But by Thursday morning, hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles beyond the center of Florence.

"This means more people, structures and land will be subject to the dangerous winds," Miller said.

3. The deadly walls of water

But astonishing winds aren't the biggest danger. That would actually be Florence's storm surge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

"Storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people," FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. "It also has the highest potential to cause the most destruction."

Storm surge is basically a wall of seawater that could fall on and swallow parts of the coast.

"This will have a storm surge in the 20-foot range," Myers said.

To put things in perspective, any storm surge taller than 12 feet is "life-threatening," National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

And no one knows how far inland that coastal flooding will spread, or how many inland communities will be washed out.

"The forecast shows a storm surge higher than many homes," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. "From the storm surge alone, tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded in North Carolina."

4. It will cause massive inland flooding

Aside from the storm surge and coastal flooding, expect colossal freshwater flooding as well. That's because the longer this slow-moving hurricane hovers over land, the more rain it'll dump in the same places.

"With this storm, what's unique is it's forecast to stall ... dropping copious amounts of rainfall across the Carolinas and into Virginia," Long said. "So this is not just going to be a coastal threat. It's a statewide threat for the states involved."

Florence will unload up to 40 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina. By comparison, Washington, D.C., gets an average of 40 inches of rain per year.

What's worse: Much of the Carolinas are already saturated from rainfall. So the land can't absorb much more water.

"Inland flooding will be a major threat and something people far from the landfall location should be concerned about," Miller said.

5. It's barreling toward people not used to big hurricanes

The Carolinas will likely bear the brunt of Florence's wrath. But that part of the East Coast rarely sees major hurricanes.

And in the 29 years since Hurricane Hugo struck, the population of the coastal Carolinas has skyrocketed.

"There's 25% more people living between Charleston (South Carolina) and Morehead City (North Carolina) than there were when Hugo was making landfall," Myers said.

"Many of the people here have never seen a storm this strong. ... They have no idea what 'overwash' of an island will do to a home, what the wind could do to your home and what to do to your home to make it safer after you evacuate."

Even Wilmington, North Carolina -- a coastal city accustomed to severe weather -- is bracing for an unusually brutal impact.

"We're a resilient bunch down here. We go through a lot of these hurricane scares throughout the years," Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. "But this is pretty serious."

He warned residents to take precautions "because once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95659

Reported Deaths: 2056
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26960930
Ramsey10911320
Dakota7524126
Anoka6092133
Stearns401024
Washington379955
Scott257433
Olmsted244628
Nobles197116
Blue Earth16996
Wright16327
St. Louis160241
Carver14197
Clay138940
Rice13358
Mower13285
Sherburne115014
Kandiyohi10112
Winona88718
Lyon6954
Waseca6698
Benton5523
Steele5472
Freeborn5424
Nicollet54016
Watonwan5284
Crow Wing51618
Todd4952
Chisago4941
McLeod4882
Le Sueur4674
Otter Tail4414
Beltrami4215
Martin40810
Goodhue3659
Itasca32814
Pine3280
Douglas3102
Polk3054
Isanti2971
Becker2802
Carlton2701
Morrison2492
Dodge2390
Cottonwood2250
Pipestone22510
Chippewa2141
Meeker2022
Wabasha1960
Sibley1923
Brown1912
Yellow Medicine1822
Cass1804
Rock1730
Unassigned17052
Redwood1673
Mille Lacs1643
Murray1642
Renville1518
Jackson1481
Faribault1450
Swift1381
Houston1280
Kanabec1258
Roseau1230
Koochiching1223
Fillmore1200
Pennington1191
Lincoln1110
Hubbard1031
Stevens1031
Pope940
Big Stone820
Aitkin801
Wadena690
Wilkin653
Grant614
Lake590
Lac qui Parle581
Norman540
Marshall521
Mahnomen481
Red Lake451
Traverse310
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods221
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 85533

Reported Deaths: 1305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15872262
Woodbury544764
Johnson512627
Black Hawk448990
Linn4010111
Story344417
Dubuque325741
Scott301128
Dallas278538
Pottawattamie211338
Buena Vista199112
Marshall178434
Sioux16183
Wapello133357
Webster125514
Plymouth114121
Clinton112121
Muscatine110855
Crawford10885
Cerro Gordo105721
Warren9566
Jasper83832
Des Moines7848
Marion7637
Henry7434
Tama71331
Carroll6625
Lee6377
Wright5811
Dickinson5276
Boone5078
Bremer4927
Washington45911
Louisa42915
Mahaska41219
Delaware4023
Floyd3493
Jackson3493
Franklin34818
Winneshiek3356
Clay3264
Lyon3264
Hamilton3223
Benton3101
Winnebago30313
Hardin2991
Poweshiek2958
Buchanan2791
Jones2743
Butler2702
Kossuth2700
Shelby2671
Clarke2653
Emmet26510
Allamakee2616
Clayton2523
Chickasaw2500
Sac2500
Cherokee2492
Cedar2461
Guthrie2456
Fayette2222
Harrison2223
Grundy2203
Madison2192
Iowa2091
Palo Alto2020
Humboldt1903
Mitchell1900
Howard1886
Hancock1842
Calhoun1833
Mills1801
Page1700
Cass1682
Osceola1610
Monroe15911
Pocahontas1592
Lucas1566
Monona1531
Jefferson1381
Appanoose1363
Union1353
Taylor1301
Davis1244
Ida1221
Fremont1180
Van Buren1141
Keokuk1091
Worth1080
Greene1010
Montgomery965
Wayne862
Audubon821
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold502
Adams330
Unassigned170
Rochester
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 57°
Mason City
Few Clouds
56° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 56°
Albert Lea
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 55°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 55°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Much Cooler Week Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events