Florence conitnues to slowly edge northwest towards southeastern North Carolina Thursday afternoon. Landfall will likely occur late Thursday night or early Friday morning as a category 2 hurricane, with winds around 105 MPH. Do not let Florence dropping from a category 4 down to a 2 fool you in to thinking the threat of impactful weather is going away. Florence remains a strong, healthy hurricane producing potentially damaging wind gusts and heavy rain.
Already, the outer rain bands are slamming portions of eastern and central North Carolina. Intervals of heavy rain will continue to sweep across the state. The coverage of rain will increase steadily as Florence moves inland tonight and through the day Friday.
A TORNADO WATCH remains in effect until 9 PM Thursday for portions of eastern North Carolina. With tropical system, the possibility of quick, spin-up tornadoes is greatest along the eastern side of the eye. We'll be watching radar closely for any area of rotation.
AT THE COAST
Florence is a very slowly moving storm, so we're expecting a prolonged period of hurricane force winds creating life-threatening storm surge. This lasting through several tide cycles potentially. The highest surge is forecast from the Cape Fear to Cape Lookout where the surge could be as high as 9 to 12 feet above ground level. A similar surge is possible along the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay Rivers.
Coastal flooding is a major concern due to high storm surge and potentially 20 to 30 inches of rainfall through the weekend. Localized higher amounts of up to 40 inches are possible. Much of this rain will fall from Thursday night into early next week.
Wind damage at the coast looks to be significat due to the threat of 70 to 105 MPH winds with event stronger gusts. Winds and wind gusts that strong can cause damage to even the most well built, sturdy homes.
Today's weather will not be as impactful for areas farther in land. Across much of central and western North Carolina today will be cloudy, warm and very humid. A few spotty downpours will be possible to go along with wind gusts up to 40 MPH. More impactful weather will arrive through the day Friday and into the weekend. Winds and rain will gradually increase as Florence moves inland.
Wind will likely range between 30 to 60 MPH for areas like the Triangle and the Sandhills Thursday night through Friday. Farther west, expected winds are even lower. For the Triad-Greesboror, and Charlotte arae expect winds between 20 to 40 mph. Stronger wind gusts are possible for all locations and that may lead to scattered power outages.
Rainfall totals will vary across the area. For locations farther south like Fayetteville and the Sandhill area, expect 10 to 15 inches. Farther north for Raleigh and the Triangle expect lesser amounts between 5 to 10 inches. Off to the west rainfall expectations conitnue to fall ranging from 2 to 8 inches across the Charlotte, Greensboro-Triad area.