Hurricane Florence officially made landfall as a Category 1 near Wrightsville Beach, NC, around 8 AM this morning. Though the winds were not as strong as it once was a few days ago, (when Florence was a Cat 4), the wind field expanded, and Cat 1 sustained winds of 90 MPH, spanned over 100 miles. The storm surge however, washed in with Cat 3-Cat 4 strength. It takes a longer time for the wave energy to slow down, rather than the intensity of the winds, which can increase or decrease rather quickly.
Though Cat 1 90 MPH sustained winds aren't 140 MPH Cat 4 sustained winds, they're still extremely strong, and can do plenty of destruction. And since Florence is moving at a crawl to the west (about six miles an hour), those 90 MPH winds will batter things for a longer period of time.
So we discussed the storm surge and winds, but the other threat will be the tremendous flooding. With nearly 5" of rain coming down an hour, and a slow moving storm, those numbers will begin to add up quickly. And over a span of several days, as the storm moves slowly, along with the storm moving further inland and over mountainous terrain, we'll see catastrophic flooding in some locations.
It's already been reported that over 500,000 people are without power due to Hurricane Florence.
Our thoughts are prayers are with the people of the Carolina's today, and over the upcoming days.
Meteorologist Josh Stone