Hurricane Warnings Issued for Carolinas for Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Warnings were issued for the Carolinas on Tuesday for the potential impacts of Hurricane Florence.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 28.4°N and longitude 68.7°W which put it about 670 miles (1075 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.  Florence was moving toward the west-northwest at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 140 m.p.h. (220 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 165 m.p.h. (270 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 946 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina.  Hurricane Watches were in effect for the portions of the coast from Edisto Beach to South Santee River, South Carolina and from Duck, North Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portions of the coast from Duck, North Carolina to Cape Charles Light, Virginia and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Hurricane Florence completed an eyewall replacement cycle and it continues to be a powerful hurricane.  There was a circular eye with a diameter of 30 miles (48 km) at the center of Florence.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  The eyewall replacement cycle resulted in a larger circulation.

Winds to hurricane force extended out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation of Hurricane Florence.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 175 miles (280 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Florence was 28.2.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 18.9 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 47.1.  Hurricane Florence is capable of causing extensive significant damage.

Hurricane Florence will move through an environment favorable for strong hurricanes during the next 24 to 36 hours.  Florence will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  it will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Florence is likely to maintain its intensity and it could strengthen.  If another eyewall replacement cycle occurs, then there could be fluctuations in intensity.

Hurricane Florence will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Florence toward the west-northwest during the next 24 to 36 hours.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Florence could approach the coast of the Carolinas later on Thursday.  The steering winds are forecast to weaken when Florence nears the coast and there is great uncertainty about the track when that occurs.  Hurricane Florence will bring strong winds to coastal North Carolina and eastern South Carolina.  Wind pushing water toward the shore will cause a significant storm surge.  A slow forward speed will mean that Hurricane Florence will drop a lot of rain and there is a risk of significant flooding of rivers and streams.

Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Isaac was speeding toward the Lesser Antilles and Hurricane Helene was weakening far south of the Azores.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located at latitude 14.5°N and longitude 52.3°W which put it about 580 miles (935 km) east of Martinique.  Isaac was moving toward the west at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 999 mb.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saba and St. Eustatius.

At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Helene was located at latitude 18.0°N and longitude 35.4°W which put it about 1479 miles (2370 km) south-southwest of the Azores.  Helene was moving toward the northwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 973 mb.

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