Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday morning, with the eye coming aground near Wrightsville Beach, South Carolina, immediately east of the city of Wilmington. The slow-moving storm has already been just off the coast throughout the night, and as a result significant storm surge has already occurred, and will continue to occur throughout Friday. In addition, the area is being lashed with heavy rain, which has already resulted in localized flash flooding. Significant general flooding of streams and rivers is expected.
Florence is currently moving slowly inland at 6 mph, with top sustained winds around 90 mph. The storm should continue to weaken gradually throughout the day as it moves away from the warm waters off the coast. Hurricane force winds extend out 80 miles from the storm center, and tropical storm force winds spread almost 200 miles. At 8 AM ET, Wilmington is continuing to experience gusts above 100 mph.
Southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina should expect an additional 20 to 25 inches of rain from the lingering storm, with some areas receiving as much as 40 inches.
This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.
Just because the winds of Florence are slowing and the eye of the storm has moved ashore, does not mean the worst is over. Those in the area are urged to remain in sheltered positions, and no one should be thinking of returning to the area at this time.
Some areas have already experienced surge levels above 10’, which could be worsened by high tide which arrives just before noon. Particularly hard hit areas have been those on the west side of the Pamlico Sound. In the town of New Bern, CNN reports that rescuers have already saved over 100 people from the rising surge, but 150 more remain trapped in attics and on rooftops. With rain still pounding and surge levels remaining high, it’s unsafe for even the rescue teams to attempt to reach many of these locations.