Meteorologists Are Warning Hurricane Florence Could Be Another Harvey
Summer may be wrapping up, but hurricane season is only about halfway through. Meteorologists are predicting that, beginning this Thursday, Hurricane Florence will hit the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with heavy rains and flooding also expected. The flooding could be so intense that some meteorologists are warning that Florence could be reminiscent of Harvey, the hurricane that hit the Texas coast last year.
Though North and South Carolina officials have issued orders for people in vulnerable areas to evacuate, major damage on the level of Harvey is predicted as a possible outcome. Experts are concerned about flooding, in particular.
The damage from Harvey was extensive. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people were displaced in the wake of the storm, up to 107 people were killed, and around 17,000 people had to be rescued. The storm was also one of the most costly in US history, resulting in more than $100 billion in damage. Unlike in the Carolinas and Virginia ahead of Florence, officials in Texas did not issue a mandatory evacuation notice ahead of Harvey, and only encouraged residents to leave if there was ample time to avoid traffic jams that would leave people stuck on the highway during the worst parts of the storm.
NPR reports that Florence currently has sustained winds up to 130 mph, making it a Category 4 storm as it approaches the east coast. It is expected to intensify in the coming days, and will likely get “stuck” in one spot for a period of several days after it makes landfall, according to the Washington Post. FEMA is already saying that power will be out in affected areas “for weeks.”
“It appears a major flood event is on the way in the Middle Atlantic region,” meteorologist Mike Smith told USA Today. Smith also indicated that the flooding could reach areas that have never dealt with this kind of natural disaster. “It is likely some areas will flood that have never flooded before,” Smith added. USA Today reports that up to 40 inches of rain are possible in some areas.
Some parts of Texas also saw upwards of 40 inches of rain over the course of several days in the wake of Harvey. One town in Texas, Nederland, saw 60.58 inches of rainfall, the worst rainfall recorded from the hurricane.
Because of the severe risks posed by the impending heavy winds and rain, officials in multiple areas that will be impacted by Florence have been ordered to evacuate. However, not all residents are facing mandatory evacuations, and are still being encouraged to leave before the storm hits. So far, 1.5 million people have left coastal towns in the Carolinas and Virginia, the Daily Beast reports.
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(Photo via Spencer Platt/ Getty Images)