Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence was a powerful and long-lived Cape Verde hurricane that caused catastrophic damage in the Carolinas in September 2018, primarily as a result of freshwater flooding. Florence dropped a maximum total of 35.93 inches (913 mm) of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, becoming the wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the Carolinas, and also the eighth-wettest overall in the contiguous United States.[1][2] The sixth named storm, third hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Florence originated from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa on August 30, 2018. Steady organization resulted in the formation of a tropical depression on the next day near Cape Verde. Progressing along a steady west-northwest trajectory, the system acquired tropical storm strength on September 1, and fluctuated in strength for several days over open ocean. An unexpected bout of rapid intensification ensued on September 4–5, culminating with Florence becoming a Category 4 major hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale (SSHWS), with estimated maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h).

Strong wind shear then tore the storm apart, and Florence degraded to a tropical storm by September 7. Shifting steering currents led to a westward turn into a more suitable environment; the system regained hurricane strength on September 9 and major hurricane status by the following day. At 16:00 UTC on September 10, Florence again became a Category 4 hurricane. Florence continued to strengthen into the next day, reaching a new peak on September 11, with 1-minute winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 937 mbar (27.7 inHg).[2] An unexpected eyewall replacement cycle and decreasing oceanic heat content caused the storm's winds to gradually taper over the next couple of days, though the storm's wind field continued to grow. By the evening of September 13, Florence had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, though the storm began to stall as it neared the Carolina coastline. Early on September 14, Florence made landfall in the United States just south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and weakened further as it slowly moved inland. Florence degenerated to a post-tropical cyclone over West Virginia on September 17, and two days later, the remnants of Florence were absorbed into another frontal storm.

Early in the storm's history, the system brought squall conditions to the Cape Verde islands, resulting in some landslides and flooding; but overall effects were negligible. With the threat of a major impact in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States becoming evident by September 7, the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland, and the mayor of Washington, D.C. declared a state of emergency. On September 10 and 11, the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia all issued mandatory evacuation orders for some of their coastal communities, predicting that emergency personnel would be unable to reach people there once the storm arrived.

Despite making landfall as a weakened Category 1 hurricane, Florence still had enough wind speed to uproot trees and cause widespread power outages throughout the Carolinas. A ridge of high pressure over eastern North America stalled Florence's forward motion for several days while making landfall. This led to Florence moving forward at only 2–3 miles per hour (3.2–4.8 km/h); the storm continually dumped heavy rain along coastal areas from September 13, when the outer rain bands first began to be felt, to September 15, when the storm was still stalled out only a few miles west of Wilmington. Coupled with a large storm surge, this caused widespread flooding along a long stretch of the North Carolina coast, from New Bern to Wilmington. As the storm moved inland, from September 15 to 17, heavy rain caused widespread inland flooding, inundating cities such as Fayetteville, Smithfield, Lumberton, Durham, and Chapel Hill, as major rivers such as the Neuse River, Eno River, Cape Fear River, and Lumber River all spilled over their banks. Most major roads and highways in the area experienced some flooding, with large stretches of I-40, I-95, and US Route 70 remaining impassable for days after the storm had passed. The city of Wilmington was cut off entirely from the rest of the mainland by floodwaters. The storm also spawned tornadoes in several places along its path. Many places received record-breaking rainfall, with more than 30 inches (760 mm) measured in some locations. At least 54 deaths were attributed to the storm.[3][4][5][6] Property damage and economic losses in the United States reached $24.23 billion (2018 USD),[2] with $24 billion in damages in the Carolinas alone;[7] estimated insured losses ranged between $4.8–5 billion.[8][9] One preliminary estimate for North Carolina was nearly $17 billion (2018 USD), more than the damage from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Floyd in that state combined.[9]

Hurricane Florence
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Florence 2018-09-11 1750Z
Hurricane Florence at peak intensity south of Bermuda on September 11
FormedAugust 31, 2018
DissipatedSeptember 18, 2018
(Extratropical after September 17)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 150 mph (240 km/h)
Lowest pressure937 mbar (hPa); 27.67 inHg
Fatalities24 direct, 30 indirect
Damage$24.23 billion (2018 USD)
Areas affectedWest Africa, Cape Verde, Bermuda, East Coast of the United States (especially The Carolinas), Atlantic Canada
Part of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological history

Florence 2018 track
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On August 28, 2018, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring a tropical wave—an elongated trough of low air pressure—over Western Africa for possible tropical cyclogenesis within the subsequent five days, as it progressed westward.[10] Development into a tropical cyclone became increasingly likely on the following day,[11] and a more defined low coalesced along the coast of Senegal on August 30.[12] Favorable environmental conditions, including ample moisture and low wind shear,[13] enabled further organization and development of broad shower and thunderstorm activity. Lacking a well-defined center but posing an immediate threat to Cape Verde, the NHC began issuing advisories on the system as Potential Tropical Cyclone Six later that day. Easterly trade winds propelled the disturbance along a west to west-northwest trajectory.[14] Through much of the day and into August 31, convection remained confined to the southwest of the disturbance within a monsoon trough and precluded its classification as a tropical cyclone.[15] Toward the end of August 31, the system's convective organization became sufficient for the NHC to mark the formation of Tropical Depression Six, as the system passed south of Santiago in Cape Verde. Surface pressures on the island fell to 1005 mbar (hPa; 29.68 inHg) at 18:00 UTC.[16]

By September 1, the primary steering factor shifted to a strong subtropical ridge anchored well to the north. Moderate wind shear temporarily stunted development and displaced convection to the eastern side of the depression.[17] Pronounced banding features surrounded the circulation and the depression intensified to a tropical storm; the NHC accordingly assigned the system the name Florence.[18] Steady development marked the system's intensification. Satellite intensity estimates indicated Florence achieved maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h) by 09:00 UTC on September 2.[19] Thereafter, shear and entrainment of dry air displaced convection from the surface low, leaving it exposed.[20] Considerable uncertainty in the forecast for Florence arose, as weather models began to depict various different solutions.[21] Fluctuations in organization and intensity continued through September 3.[22][23]

Florence 2018-09-05 1830Z
Hurricane Florence at its initial peak intensity on September 5

Development of a small central dense overcast and a mid-level eye feature signified that Florence achieved hurricane strength early on September 4, roughly 1,240 miles (2,000 km) west-northwest of the Cape Verde islands.[24][25] Unexpectedly the system rapidly organized within a small area of low wind shear in an otherwise adverse upper-level environment. Florence's small size enabled it to take advantage of this localized area.[26] The hurricane's core structure, eye, and outer banding improved markedly, catching forecasters off-guard and intensifying beyond model outputs.[27] In stark contrast to model guidance, Florence continued to intensify and attained major hurricane status at 12:35 UTC on September 5.[28][29] Sustained winds rose to 130 mph (215 km/h)—this ranked it as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale—and its pressure fell to 953 mbar (hPa; 28.14 inHg). Situated at 22°42′N 46°36′W / 22.7°N 46.6°W,[30] Florence became the northernmost Category 4 hurricane east of 50°W ever to be recorded.[31]

Time-lapse video of the NOAA Hurricane Hunters flying through the eye of Hurricane Florence on September 11, 2018

The hurricane's unforeseen intensification caused it to track farther north, out of the localized low shear.[32] Persistent shear finally took its toll on Florence on September 6 through September 7, causing convection to become asymmetrical and tilting the storm's core southwest to northeast.[33][34] Rapid degradation of Florence's structure occurred by the early hours of September 7. The storm's low-level circulation became exposed as its convection became displaced to the northeast, and the previously well-defined eye dissipated. Scatterometer data revealed the system weakened to tropical storm intensity by 03:00 UTC. Meteorologist Robbie Berg described the intensity forecasts for Florence as a "self-defeating prophecy" owing to the "nuances of the environmental shear".[32][35] A building mid-level ridge halted Florence's northward movement, leading to a westward turn.[32][35] Weather models became increasingly consistent on the storm's future track, leading to greater confidence in a major impact to the Southeastern United States.[36] This trajectory proved climatologically unusual, with United States hurricane landfalls primarily originating farther south and west than Florence.[37]

Hurricane Florence on September 13, 2018, as seen from the International Space Station

Environmental conditions became increasingly conducive to reorganization on September 8 as NOAA Hurricane Hunters began reconnaissance of the cyclone.[38] Convective banding blossomed around the storm and a formative eye appeared on satellite imagery.[39] The storm's central dense overcast became more defined, and a complete eyewall developed within its core. Florence reattained hurricane-status by 15:00 UTC on September 9, with the Hurricane Hunters observing 76 mph (122 km/h) sustained winds at the surface.[40] Fueled by sea surface temperatures of 84 to 85 °F (29 to 29.5 °C), Florence rapidly intensified overnight. Convective bursts with frequent lightning surrounded the eyewall,[41] giving rise to a well-defined 12 mi (19 km) wide eye. Expanding outflow ventilated the cyclone, enabling continued growth.[42] The system rapidly re-achieved Category 4 intensity by 16:00 UTC on September 10, with reconnaissance aircraft recording surface winds near 130 mph (215 km/h) and a central pressure of 946 mbar (hPa; 27.93 inHg).[43][44] Hurricane Florence continued strengthening into the next day, achieving its peak intensity at 18:00 UTC on September 11, with 1-minute sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 937 mbar (hPa; 27.67 inHg).[2] The extent of hurricane-force winds doubled in size and well-defined mesovortices rotated along the inner eyewall.[45] Slight weakening ensued thereafter as an eyewall replacement cycle started; convection surrounding the eyewall became ragged and the eye itself filled.[46][47] This process completed on the following day, with the newly formed eye spanning 35 mi (55 km) across. Extensive outflow became established over the cyclone, extending northwest and east, providing ample ventilation and deformation which enabled Florence to continue expanding.[48] The future track of the hurricane became increasingly complex as it approached the Carolinas. A strengthening trough moving inland over the Pacific Northwest amplified ridging over the Northeastern United States and western Atlantic Ocean, steering Florence to the west-northwest. A collapse of steering currents was anticipated around the time of landfall on September 14, which would result in the hurricane meandering near the coast or just inland for a prolonged period of time.[49]

Fluctuations in the organization of Florence continued through the remainder of September 11 into September 12.[50] Eyewall replacement cycles and upwelling of cold water along the storm's path[51] caused the inner structure to degrade, and the system degraded to Category 3 status by 18:00 UTC.[52] Continued weakening occurred and Florence fell below major hurricane intensity later that night. The weakening pace slowed as the satellite presentation improved somewhat on September 13, with an eye attempting to emerge again. The hurricane's motion slowed significantly and it began to turn northwest towards the Carolina border. At 11:15 UTC (7:15 a.m. EDT) on September 14, Florence made landfall just south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) and a central pressure of 958 mbar (28.3 inHg).[53] Although the hurricane began a weakening trend after making landfall, the forward speed decreased, causing Florence to move very slowly west to southwestward as it produced torrential rainfall over the Carolinas. Late on September 14, Florence weakened to a tropical storm over extreme southeastern North Carolina.[54] Florence continued weakening while dropping heavy rain, and weakened into a tropical depression by 09:00 UTC on September 16, while located over South Carolina. By this point, Florence had also begun to gradually accelerate westward.[55] At that time, the NHC issued its final advisory on Florence, transferring responsibility to the Weather Prediction Center (WPC).[56] On September 17, Florence slowly turned to the northeast, while continuing to weaken. Late on the same day, Florence weakened into a remnant low, while situated over West Virginia.[57] On September 18, the remnants of Florence emerged off the New England coast,[58] before being absorbed into a frontal system over the North Atlantic on September 19.[59] This system later led to the formation of Hurricane Leslie.[60]

Preparations

Hurricane Florence Viewed from the Space Station
Florence viewed from the International Space Station on September 10

Cape Verde and Bermuda

Upon the designation of Potential Tropical Cyclone Six on August 30, the government of Cape Verde issued tropical storm warnings for the islands of Brava, Fogo, and Santiago.[61] Domestic airlines cancelled 20 flights on August 31 and September 1; maritime travel was also suspended for this period.[62] Mariners were advised to remain cautious of large swells around the islands, potentially reaching 9.8 to 16.4 ft (3 to 5 m).[63] Under the threat of damaging waves, the Autoridade Nacional de Proteção Civil evacuated 125 people, primarily elderly, from Furna and Rincão.[64] Eleven military personnel were deployed to Rincão to assist in evacuations and preparations.[65] Tropical storm warnings were discontinued on September 1, as the system progressed westward and no longer posed a threat to the archipelago.[66]

In anticipation of adverse conditions, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Oceania Cruises adjusted itineraries for Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Dawn, and Sirena to avoid crossing the hurricane's path and not dock in Bermuda.[67]

United States

President Donald Trump holding a briefing in the Oval Office in advance of Hurricane Florence

As forecast models indicated an increasing threat to the Southeastern United States, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on September 7. Transportation rules for farmers were waived to enable faster harvesting.[68] President Donald Trump declared an emergency in North Carolina, granting the state access to federal funds.[69] An overnight curfew was established for Lumberton for the duration of the hurricane.[70] The cost of hurricane preparation in Virginia were at US$10.8 million.[71]

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster followed suit on the next day.[72] The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) and Harvest Hope Food Bank began mobilizing resources for potential recovery efforts.[73] The SCEMD raised operation conditions to level 3 on September 9, and began preparations for the "possibility of a large-scale disaster", with forecasts showing Florence striking the state as a major hurricane.[74] Local officials established overnight curfews for the cities of Aynor, Conway, Dillon, Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach to limit the number of people on the roads and enable effective emergency responses. The entirety of Horry and Marion counties also fell under curfews.[70][75][76]

On September 8, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also declared a state of emergency.[77] On September 10, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for the entire state, with the potential of "historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding in Maryland".[78] On September 11, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency for the entire District of Columbia due to the "imminent threats on the people of D.C., including threats to health, safety and welfare" caused by Florence.[79][80] On September 12, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for the entire state.[81]

Evacuation and closures

Mandatory evacuation orders for residents and tourists on Hatteras Island in Dare County began on September 10, with orders expanding to the rest of the county the following day.[82] Evacuations along the rest of the Outer Banks and in Brunswick County went in effect on September 11.[83] On September 10, Governor Henry McMaster ordered evacuations for the entire coastline of South Carolina,[84] constituting roughly 1 million people.[85] On September 10, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered mandatory evacuations for low-lying coastal areas in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore regions effective September 11, constituting 245,000 people.[86] The US Navy has moved 30 ships stationed off the coast of Virginia farther out to sea, to protect the ships and the coastline.[87]

'Red Cross Shelter Serves Florence Evacuees' - News report published by Voice of America on September 14, 2018

In North Carolina, mandatory evacuations were issued on September 11 for Brunswick County, Carteret County, Craven County, Onslow County, Pamlico County, Tyrrell County, North Topsail Beach, Emerald Isle, Ocracoke Island, Atlantic Beach, Indian Beach, Kure Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Wrightsville Beach. A mandatory evacuation for visitors and tourists was issued on September 11 for Holden Beach, Oak Island, and Currituck. Voluntary evacuations were issued for Bertie County, Beaufort County, and Surf City.[88] A voluntary evacuation was also issued for New Hanover County on September 10, including Wilmington, NC.[89]

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington issued a mandatory evacuation effective on September 10.[90] All students were evacuated by noon on September 11. The university collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Asheville to house students who had no options for safe shelter.[91] College football games scheduled at North Carolina State University,[92] East Carolina University, Wake Forest University, Appalachian State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of South Carolina were cancelled as a result of the storm.[93][94][95] Several universities in North Carolina had announced closings in preparation for the hurricane.[96][97][98]

In South Carolina, in 26 eastern counties, public schools were closed until further notice beginning on September 10. State offices in these counties were also ordered closed, while county-level officials could decide when to close their offices.[99]

Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway opened their campgrounds to evacuees of Hurricane Florence free of charge.[100][101][102] In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice ordered for construction along northbound Interstate 77 (West Virginia Turnpike) between the Virginia border in Mercer County and Charleston to be suspended in order to improve traffic flow for evacuees. In addition, West Virginia state parks offered reduced rates for rooms, cabins, and campsites until September 18 in order to provide assistance to evacuees.[103]

Impact

Cape Verde and Bermuda

Disruptive rainfall and strong winds affected Brava, Fogo, and Santiago in Cape Verde, causing some landslides and localized flooding. Impacts from the storm were otherwise minimal, with no material damage reported.[62]

Large swells and rip currents from the storm reached Bermuda on September 7.[104]

United States

North Carolina

Florence radar 20180914 1526 UTC
Radar image of Hurricane Florence a few hours after landfall on September 14

In Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, 27 people required lifeguard rescue between September 8 and 9.[105] On September 13, New Bern, North Carolina, was inundated with storm surge around 6 feet (1.8 m). Water levels rose in the west side of the Pamlico Sound.Water levels on the Neuse River at Oriental, North Carolina peaked at 9.6 feet above normal.[106] Employees at ABC affiliate WCTI-TV (which serves the surrounding market that includes Greenville and Jacksonville) were forced to evacuate its New Bern studio facility that evening due to the rising waters; WCTI station staff were asked to relocate to the studios of sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to continue coverage of the storm, with WCTI switching to a simulcast of WPDE's live coverage of the storm until its staff relocated to the WPDE facility.[107][108][109] Reports indicated that around 150 people were in need of rescue in New Bern because of the heavy flooding.[110]

Florence's flooding in North Carolina and Virginia was compounded by earlier flooding during the summer that left the ground heavily saturated.[111]

Florence made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on September 14, and by mid-morning rescuers had already evacuated more than 200 people from floodwaters, with about 150 more awaiting rescue. The storm had reportedly cut power to more than 500,000 customers in North and South Carolina by the time of landfall and caused the roof of a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina to collapse that morning.[112] On September 14, about 100 civilians, city workers, and National Guard worked to fill sandbags and protect Lumberton, North Carolina from an identified weak spot that caused massive flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.[113]

Heavy rains continued to affect the Carolinas after landfall. A weather station in Swansboro, North Carolina, recorded 33.90 inches (861 mm) of rain, establishing a new record for a tropical cyclone in that state.[114][115] By September 17, Florence had dropped a maximum total of 35.93 inches (913 mm) of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, becoming the wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the state.[1]

Hurricane Florence rainfall
5-day map accumulation with Florence over the Carolinas

Statewide, approximately 2,200 primary and secondary roads closed due to flooding,[116] including large sections of Interstates 40 and 95.[117][118]

Strong winds in New Hanover County toppled numerous trees and power lines, while more than 90% of the county was left without electricity. The storm dropped up to 27.2 in (690 mm) of rain near Kings Grant.[119] By the morning of September 16, Wilmington had recorded more rain from Florence than any other single weather event in the city's history. Additionally, Florence contributed to the wettest year in Wilmington history, with annual rainfall totals eclipsing the previous record set in 1877.[120] The city of Wilmington became entirely isolated, as all roads to the city flooded and were deemed impassable,[121] though one unidentified road was opened briefly on September 17.[122] The majority of residents remained without electricity, as of September 16. The city's airport and port were also closed.[121][123] Although cell phone service remained operational, excess demand strained networks. More than 450 people required rescue across Wilmington. Woody White, New Hanover County chairman of the board of commissioners, issued a statement advising all travelers to avoid the Wilmington area.[121] There was a report of looting and burglary at a Wilmington area Family Dollar, with the theft of non-essential items such as sports apparel and athletic shoes during the height of the storm.[124][125] The city-wide curfew issued in advance of the storm was extended because of these incidents.[121]

Early on September 17, a tornado was confirmed in Elm City, North Carolina.[126]

Also on September 17, the Pee Dee River crested at Ansonville at 35.4 ft (10.8 m), 2 ft (0.61 m) above the 1945 record.[127]

The Cape Fear River crested at 61.4 ft (18.7 m)—about 35 ft (11 m) above flood stage—near Fayetteville early on September 19. The magnitude of flooding greatly exceeded the levels observed due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The nearby Little River inundated large areas across Cumberland and Harnett counties. Overtopped bridges isolated communities and hampered relief efforts.[128]

Damage statewide reached an estimated US$17 billion, more than the combined damage of Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Matthew in the state, according to Governor Roy Cooper.[9] Estimated insurance losses ranged between $2.8–5 billion.[8]

South Carolina

Heavy rainfall also occurred in South Carolina, with 23.63 in (600 mm) of precipitation observed near Loris, setting a new state record for rainfall from a tropical cyclone.[129] More than 100 people were rescued from their homes and cars in Loris. The Waccamaw River in Conway crested at 22.1 ft (6.7 m) on September 26, exceeding the Hurricane Matthew record of 19.1 ft (5.8 m). At a neighborhood along South Carolina Highway 905, about 5 ft (1.5 m) of water entered some homes. Farther south along the Waccamaw River, homes in a neighborhood in Socastee were flooded with as much as 8 ft (2.4 m) of water. In western Horry County, the community of Dongola was left isolated for 10 days. The overflowing river flooded almost 1,000 homes and businesses. The storm also spawned two tornadoes in Horry County, both rated EF0. The first twister touched down just north-northeast of Myrtle Beach, causing minor damage to pine trees near Route 17 before lifting after moving only about half a mile. The other tornado touched down near Longs and also damaged pine trees and a roof.[119]

Flooding was also reported in Marion County, especially in Brittons Neck and Gresham. A number of people evacuated and were still not able to access their homes by October 1. In Nichols, flooding damaged about 150  homes which had been rebuilt after Hurricane Matthew. Strong winds downed trees and power lines, while at least one home in Nichols suffered roof damage. Approximately 400 homes in Dillon County were flooded. A total of 21  homes in Darlington County received severe flood damage, while another home was destroyed.[119]

In Chesterfield County, the Pee Dee River crested at 46.51 ft (14.18 m) at Cheraw. Three nearby dams failed, causing significant flooding in Cheraw and the town of Chesterfield. Many roads became impassable or were washed out. A total of 226 homes were damaged and other 2 were destroyed.[130] A Superfund site was also damaged, causing PCB to enter homes, a toxic substance which required cleanup efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency.[131] In Lancaster County, flash flooding left a number of roads impassable and washed out several other streets. A park was flooded after the Gills Creek overflowed. Winds downed about 20 trees in the Lancaster area, one of which fell onto a home and others falling onto a road. Power lines were downed across Route 521, obstructing all four lanes.[130] Damage statewide were at least $1.2 billion.[132]

Elsewhere

Olddominionflorence
A warehouse in Chesterfield County, Virginia, destroyed by a tornado

The storm spawned 10 tornadoes in Virginia, including 2 in Chesterfield County, 1 in Hanover County, 1 in Mecklenberg County, 1 in Powhatan County, and 5 in Richmond. Most of these tornadoes caused little damage other than downed trees, tree limbs, or electrical poles. However, the twister in Chesterfield County, rated EF2, damaged several buildings between Winterpock and Bon Air and destroyed a warehouse, causing one death and at least one injury. The tornado in Mecklenburg County, rated EF0, touched down between Boydton and Skipwith. Extensive tree damaged was reported, with several homes and outbuildings damaged by falling trees.[133] Virginia suffered a total of $200 million in damages.[2]

The state of Georgia experienced lesser amounts of damage, mostly from fallen trees and downed powerlines. Damage in Georgia totaled $30 million.[2]

Large swells ahead of the hurricane reached Assateague State Park, Maryland, by September 9, prompting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to close beach access indefinitely.[134]

Deaths

Deaths by U.S. state[2]
State Deaths
Direct Indirect Total
Florida 2 0 2
North Carolina 15 25 40
South Carolina 4 5 9
Virginia 3 0 3
Total 24 30 54

Rip currents and rough seas in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, caused 13 rescues; one victim died at a hospital and two others had impact injuries.[4] One man drowned on September 11, at Florida's Playalinda Beach, while trying to rescue a 10-year-old boy caught in a rip current.[5] One child drowned in Green Swamp near Sumter, South Carolina after water released from the Second Mill Pond flowed into the river.[135]

Two people in North Carolina died while trying to evacuate: one in Columbus County and Wayne County.[136][137] In Wilmington, a mother and her baby were killed when a tree landed on their house. In Hampstead, a woman died of a heart attack; downed trees on roads kept first responders from reaching her. A person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator in the wet conditions.[138] A house fire in Fayetteville killed a husband and wife. Freshwater flooding killed at least eleven people: one in Anson County, eight Duplin County, and two in Scotland County.[116][137][139] One man was killed in Kinston by strong winds while checking on his hunting dogs.[140] A three-month-old baby died in Gaston County when a tree crushed a mobile home.[136] In Union County, a woman drove around a barrier into a flooded road and her vehicle was swept away. Rescuers saved the mother, but her one-year-old baby drowned.[141] An 18-wheeler aquaplaned off Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain and crashed into a tree; the vehicle tore in half, killing the driver.[142] Two other accidents each killed one person: an old man died of oxygen loss related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease during a power outage, and a person collapsed and died in Sampson County while helping an evacuee.[137] One person drowned in the swelling Cape Fear River near Cedar Creek after refusing evacuation orders.[143] On September 20, a man in Brunswick County died after being crushed by a tree he was clearing.[144] In late September, two people were killed in North Carolina while repairing damage from Hurricane Florence to their homes, bringing the death toll in the state to 39.[3]

Three deaths originally attributed to the hurricane were later considered unrelated. One woman died of unknown causes in a shelter, and two people found dead on Harkers Island were deemed victims of a murder-suicide.[136][145]

Two people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Loris, South Carolina. A vehicle with three occupants lost control on a flooded road in Georgetown County; one passenger died, while the driver and other passenger escaped. A woman died when her vehicle crashed into a downed tree near Union.[139] A vehicle lost control along Interstate 20 near Columbia and crashed into a bridge support, killing the driver. Another fatal accident occurred near Columbia when a woman drove into a flooded road and crashed into a tree.[146] On September 18, a van was transporting two mental health patients from Horry County to Darlington; the vehicle was swept away by swift-moving water along U.S. Route 76—the swollen Little Pee Dee River was 0.5 mi (0.80 km) from this location.[147] The two deputies in the van managed to escape and survived;[148] however, the two women in the back were shackled, and the deputies were unable to free them before the van was overcome with water.[149] The deputies were put on administrative leave.[150]

On September 17, ten tornadoes (EF0 through EF2)[133][151] touched down in Virginia, resulting in one death in Chesterfield County, Virginia.[152][153] Another person died when his vehicle was swept away along a flooded road in Louisa.[154]

One 69-year-old man in Robeson County, North Carolina whose house was damaged apparently committed suicide.[6][155]

Agriculture and environmental effects

20180924-OSEC-LSC-1160 (43110332950)
Flooded farmland in Duplin County, North Carolina in the wake of Florence

The large-scale flooding affected swaths of North Carolina's agricultural industry and proved particularly damaging to livestock. Through September 18, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture stated 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs died in flooded farms. Dozens of farms remained isolated with animals unable to be fed. Piles of manure stored at these farms were swept into swollen rivers,[156][157] about a dozen pits holding animal waste were damaged by the flooding and debris.[158]

On September 16, approximately 5 million gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled into the Cape Fear River after a treatment plant lost power.[156] An estimated 2,000 yd3 (1,530 m3) of coal ash from the closed Sutton Power Station near Wilmington was also swept into the river. Torrential rains from the storm itself, estimated at 30 inches (760 mm), also caused a swamp to spill into the cooling pond.[159] On September 19, the H.F. Lee Energy Complex in Goldsboro flooded to the point where their three ponds were completely underwater and began releasing coal ash into the Neuse River.[160]

Domestic and zoo animals

During and after the storm made landfall, local rescuers and nationwide donors and organizations worked to aid the many pets that had been left by their owners, or alongside their owners.[161][162] Others drove to South and North Carolina in order to evacuate animals and bring them outside of the hurricanes impact zone while shelters in other states accepted animals from the states.[163] Many rescuers were looking for local residents in need of assistance or evacuation aid, and discovered some animals in flooding cages, some attempting to seek shelter, and some stranded on porches.[164]

Zoo animals such as those from the Virginia Zoo were sheltered within indoor and sheltered portions of their enclosures.[165] Other zoos such as the North Carolina Zoo were lightly impacted by the storm and opened on September 18, and offered free admission for evacuees from September 18 to 21.[166]

Aftermath

Evacuees

On September 19, after the rain had stopped, a majority of evacuees were urged by officials to stay away from their homes as the rivers continued to rise; the potential threat of floods remained high, roads remained closed, and thousands lacked power to their homes.[167] Many individuals whose homes were ruined due to the hurricane, have been offered aid through Red Cross shelters, rental assistance from FEMA, or utilizing undamaged rental properties until their homes are livable. FEMA has utilized Transitional Sheltering Assistance Programs to pay for hotel stays for individuals while they look for more permanent solutions, the programs had 342 households and a total of 1,044 people as of October 3.[168]

Power restoration

In the aftermath of the storm, over 40,000 workers from across the U.S. and Canada went to the Carolinas to help restore power, according to the Edison Electric Institute.[169]

Roads

The continued flooding closed many major roads for days after the incident. On September 15, NCDOT asked drivers to avoid driving in North Carolina altogether, instructing them to take a detour at Richmond, Virginia using Interstate 64 west to Interstate 81 south into Tennessee to Interstate 40 west to Interstate 75 south into Georgia to Interstate 16 east back to Interstate 95.[170] Parts of I-95 and I-40 in North Carolina reopened ten days later September 23, while hundreds of other roads remained closed.[171] Thousands of dead fish had to be cleaned off of Interstate 40 in Pender County, North Carolina, with other marine life such as a 20-foot-long whale being reported washed onto beaches and residential areas, having to be removed and buried.[172]

Relief efforts

President Donald Trump visited North and South Carolina on September 19, and spoke to emergency workers in an airplane hangar at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.[173] South Carolina Governor McMaster applied for $1.2 billion in federal funding for recovery. This included $165 million under the National Flood Insurance Program and $125 million for agriculture.[116] On September 23, the United States Congress began deliberation of a $1.7 billion aid package for the Carolinas.[174]

Investigation

The deaths of two women who were being transported to a mental health facility led to an opening of an investigation, which is being conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division and Highway Patrol. The deputies involved were placed on administrative leave.[150] Family members of the deceased met with South Carolina elected officials to discuss the incident and the changes that they wish to see put in place to prevent other deaths.[175]

Retirement

On March 20, 2019, at the 41st session of the RA IV hurricane committee, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Florence from its rotating name lists, due to the severe damage and loss of life it caused along its track, particularly in the Carolinas, and its name will never again be used for another Atlantic hurricane. It will be replaced with Francine for the 2024 season.[176]

See also

References

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  174. ^ "Congress Considering a Nearly $1.7 Billion Relief Package for Hurricane Florence Efforts". Time. Associated Press. September 23, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  175. ^ "Family of sheriff's van drowning victim calls for criminal charges against deputies". myrtlebeachonline. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  176. ^ "Florence and Michael retired by the World Meteorological Organization | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration". www.noaa.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2019.

External links

1963 Pacific hurricane season

The 1963 Pacific hurricane season was a below-average season, with 8 storms and 4 hurricanes forming. The season ran through the summer and fall of 1963.

The strongest of these storms were Glenda and Mona, which both had 85 mph (135 km/h) winds. The first storm, Emily, made landfall near Manzanillo, Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane. The next hurricanes, Florence and Glenda, stayed far away from land. Jennifer-Katherine made landfall on Baja California as a tropical depression on September 18. Tropical Storm Irah affected Hawaii as a tropical depression. An unnamed tropical storm curved round Hawaii from 2-8 August. Lillian became post-tropical shortly before making landfall on September 29 with winds of 50 mph. Mona, the final storm of the season made landfall around about the same area as Lillian did with winds of 85 mph.

1973 Pacific hurricane season

The 1973 Pacific hurricane season was an event in tropical cyclone meteorology. The most important system this year was Hurricane Ava, which was the most intense Pacific hurricane known at the time. Several other much weaker tropical cyclones came close to, or made landfall on, the Pacific coast of Mexico. The most serious of these was Hurricane Irah, which downed power and communication lines in parts of the Baja California Peninsula; the other landfalling storms caused rain and some flooding. No tropical cyclone this season caused any deaths.This season had a quick start but a slow end. Overall activity was below average, with twelve named systems in total. Of these, five were tropical storms, seven were hurricanes, of which three were major (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale). Just one storm formed in August, one of the least active Augusts ever in the east Pacific. The season officially started May 15, 1973, in the eastern Pacific, and June 1, 1973, in the central Pacific, and lasted until November 30, 1973. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. All tropical cyclones this season formed in the eastern north Pacific Ocean, often off the coast of Mexico. As is usual in the northern hemisphere, most traveled generally westward or northwestward, and two reached as far as the waters south of the Hawaiian Islands.

1977 Pacific hurricane season

The 1977 Pacific hurricane season stands alongside 2010 as the least active Pacific hurricane season since reliable records began in 1971. Only eight tropical storms formed throughout the year; four further intensified into hurricanes, yet none strengthened into major hurricanes—a Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir–Simpson scale—an occurrence not seen again until 2003. Most tropical cyclones remained over the open eastern Pacific; however, the remnants of hurricanes Doreen and Heather led to heavy rainfall which damaged or destroyed structures and flooded roadways throughout the Southwest United States. Notably, Hurricane Anita which originally formed in the Gulf of Mexico made the rare trek across Mexico into the eastern Pacific, briefly existing as a tropical depression. Eight deaths were recorded while damage reached $39.6 million (1977 USD).

1994 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1994 Atlantic hurricane season was the final season in the most recent low-activity era (“cold phase”) of tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic. It produced seven named tropical cyclones and three hurricanes, a total below the seasonal average. The season officially started on June 1 and ended on November 30, dates which conventionally limit the period during which most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic Ocean. The first tropical cyclone, Tropical Storm Alberto, developed on June 30, while the last storm, Hurricane Gordon, dissipated on November 21. The season was unusual in that it produced no major hurricanes, which are those of Category 3 status or higher on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale. The most intense hurricane, Hurricane Florence, peaked as a Category 2 storm with winds of 110 mph (180 km/h). Aside from Chris, Florence, and Gordon, none of the storms exceeded tropical storm intensity.

Tropical Storm Alberto produced significant rainfall and flooding in the Southeastern United States, damaging or destroying over 18,000 homes. In August, Tropical Storm Beryl produced heavy rainfall in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, with moderate to heavy rainfall throughout several other states. Beryl caused numerous injuries, many of which occurred from a tornado associated with the tropical storm. Tropical Storm Debby killed nine people in the Caribbean in September. Hurricane Gordon was the most significant storm of the season, causing damage from Costa Rica to North Carolina among its six landfalls. Extreme flooding and mudslides from Gordon caused approximately 1,122 fatalities in Haiti. In addition, a nor'easter in December may have had tropical characteristics, though due to the uncertainty, it was not classified as a tropical system.

2018 Atlantic hurricane season

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was the third in a consecutive series of above-average and damaging Atlantic hurricane seasons, featuring 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes, which caused a total of over $50.205 billion (2018 USD) in damages. The season officially began on June 1, 2018, and ended on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. The formation of Tropical Storm Alberto on May 25, marked the fourth consecutive year in which a storm developed before the official start of the season. The next storm, Beryl, became the first hurricane to form in the eastern Atlantic during the month of July since Bertha in 2008. Chris, upgraded to a hurricane on July 10, became the earliest second hurricane in a season since 2005. No hurricanes formed in the North Atlantic during the month of August, marking the first season since 2013, and the eighth season on record, to do so. On September 5, Florence became the first major hurricane of the season. On September 12, Joyce formed, making 2018 the first season since 2008 to feature four named storms active simultaneously (Florence, Helene, Isaac, and Joyce). On October 9, Michael became the second major hurricane of the season, and a day later, it became the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. With the formation of Oscar on October 26, the season is the first on record to see seven storms that were subtropical at some point in their lifetimes (Alberto, Beryl, Debby, Ernesto, Joyce, Leslie, and Oscar).

Most forecasting groups called for a below-average season due to cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the anticipated development of an El Niño. However, the anticipated El Niño failed to develop in time to suppress activity, and activity exceeded most predictions.

2018 FEI World Equestrian Games

The 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games are being held in Mill Spring, North Carolina, U.S. at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, from September 11 to September 23, 2018. This is the eighth edition of the games, which are held every four years and run by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). This is the second time that North America is hosting the Games, the previous time being in 2010, when the United States were also the hosts. United States will become the first nation to host the Games twice.

2018 NCAA Division I FCS football season

The 2018 NCAA Division I FCS football season, part of college football in the United States, was organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. The FCS Championship Game was played on January 5, 2019, in Frisco, Texas. North Dakota State claimed its second consecutive FCS title, and seventh in eight years.

Brunswick Nuclear Generating Station

The Brunswick nuclear power plant, named for Brunswick County, North Carolina, covers 1,200 acres (490 ha) at 20 feet (6.1 m) above sea level about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. The site is adjacent to the town of Southport, North Carolina, and to wetlands and woodlands, and was opened in 1975.

The site contains two General Electric boiling water reactors, which are cooled by water collected from the Cape Fear River and discharged into the Atlantic Ocean.

Duke Energy Progress is the majority owner (81.7%) and operator of the Brunswick nuclear plant. The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency owns the remaining 18.3%. Duke Energy Progress is currently in the process of buying The North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency's 18.3% Stake at Brunswick nuclear power plant. (Duke Energy completed its merger with Progress Energy on July 2, 2012.)

The Brunswick plants' proximity to the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean allowed the designers to take in cooling water from the Cape Fear river and discharge it into the Atlantic off the coast of Oak Island. Fish, crustaceans, and other debris are removed from the cooling water via a filtration system. The water then flows through the nuclear plant and discharges into a five mile long canal which passes under the Intra-Coastal Waterway at one point.

Fair Bluff, North Carolina

Fair Bluff is a town in Columbus County, North Carolina, United States that was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and inundated by high water by Hurricane Florence in 2018. The population was 951 at the 2010 census but is believed to be lower following the two disasters.

Hurricane Florence (1953)

Hurricane Florence was a strong Atlantic hurricane that struck the Florida Panhandle in September of the 1953 season. The eighth storm and fifth hurricane of the season, Florence developed in the western Caribbean from a tropical wave near Jamaica on September 23. It produced heavy rainfall on the nearby island, and later caused damage in western Cuba. The storm quickly intensified into a hurricane over the Yucatán Channel, and as it moved north through the Gulf of Mexico, Florence's maximum sustained winds reached 125 mph (205 km/h). On September 26, the hurricane hit in a sparsely populated region of western Florida, and shortly after landfall became an extratropical cyclone.

Damage from Florence, with 421 houses damaged and another three destroyed. The winds destroyed the roofs of three evacuation shelters, resulting in one injury. The city of Apalachicola, Florida was temporarily isolated due to the storm's impact. There were no deaths associated with Florence, and damage totaled $200,000 (1953 USD, $1.87 million 2019 USD). After becoming extratropical, the remnants continued to the northeast, producing rainfall along its path before dissipating on September 28 southeast of New England.

Hurricane Florence (1988)

Hurricane Florence was the third of four named tropical cyclones to make landfall on the United States during the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season. The seventh tropical storm and second hurricane of the season, Florence developed on September 7 from an area of convection associated with a dissipating frontal trough in the southern Gulf of Mexico. After initially moving eastward, the storm turned northward and strengthened. Florence reached hurricane status and later peak winds of 80 mph (130 km/h) on September 9 shortly before striking southeastern Louisiana. The storm rapidly weakened over land and dissipated on September 11 over northeastern Texas.

Early in its duration, the storm dropped rainfall across the Yucatán Peninsula. Upon striking Louisiana, Florence produced a moderate storm surge, causing severe beach erosion in some locations. Gusty winds were also reported, causing power outages to over 100,000 people. In Alabama, one man died while trying to secure his boat. Rainfall from the hurricane caused severe river flooding in portions of the Florida Panhandle in an area already severely affected by heavy rainfall; the flooding damaged or destroyed dozens of houses in Santa Rosa County. Throughout its path, damage totaled about $2.9 million (1988 USD, $5.3 million 2008 USD).

Hurricane Florence (1994)

Hurricane Florence was a strong, late season hurricane that remained out over the open waters of the Central Atlantic for nearly a week, before being absorbed into a large extratropical cyclone. With peak winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) and a minimum pressure of 972 mbar (hPa; 28.71 inHg), Florence was the strongest storm of the 1994 Atlantic hurricane season. Florence developed out of an area of low pressure associated with a stalled frontal system located 1,150 mi (1,850 km) east-southeast of Bermuda in late October. The system gradually became better organized and was classified a subtropical depression on November 2. The storm intensified into a subtropical storm shortly thereafter before weakening into a tropical depression on the next day.

After gaining tropical characteristics throughout most of the day on November 3, the storm was designated Tropical Depression Eleven. The depression quickly strengthened into Tropical Storm Florence, the sixth named storm of the season. The storm briefly underwent rapid intensification, strengthening into a hurricane, before leveling out as a Category 1 hurricane. Florence was subsequently upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane on November 7. However, a large extratropical cyclone located to the north caused the hurricane to rapidly accelerate, with forward speeds reaching 58 mph (93 km/h). By the next day, Florence lost its identity, while still producing hurricane-force winds, as it was absorbed by the extratropical cyclone.

Hurricane Florence (2000)

Hurricane Florence attained Category 1 intensity on three separate occasions in mid-September 2000. The tenth tropical cyclone and sixth named storm of the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season, Florence developed on September 20 from a cold front to the southwest of Bermuda. Initially a subtropical cyclone, it quickly organized, attaining hurricane status twice in a two-day period before weakening while remaining nearly stationary. Florence accelerated northeastward, reaching peak winds as a hurricane after passing near Bermuda. On September 17, the storm was absorbed by a larger extratropical cyclone. Hurricane Florence threatened Bermuda during its third time at hurricane intensity, bringing tropical storm force winds to the island but causing no reported damage. However, three deaths in North Carolina were blamed on rip currents triggered by the hurricane on September 12.

Hurricane Florence (2006)

Hurricane Florence was the first North Atlantic hurricane to produce hurricane-force winds on the island of Bermuda since Hurricane Fabian in September 2003. The seventh tropical storm and second hurricane of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, Florence developed from a tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic Ocean on September 3. Due to unfavorable conditions, the system failed to organize initially, and as a result, the storm grew to an unusually large size. After several days, Florence encountered an area of lesser wind shear and intensified into a hurricane on September 10. It passed just west of Bermuda while recurving northeastward, and on September 13 it transitioned into an extratropical cyclone.

Florence produced wind gusts of up to 115 mph (185 km/h) on Bermuda, which caused several power outages and minor damage. Florence then brought heavy rains across Newfoundland as an extratropical storm, destroying one house and causing minor damage to several others. There were no fatalities as a result of the hurricane.

List of North Carolina hurricanes (2000–present)

North Carolina is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Seaboard in the southeastern United States. Tropical cyclones—storms characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain—regularly affect the state. According to statistical hurricane research between 1886 and 1996 by the North Carolina State Climatology Office, a tropical cyclone makes landfall along the coastline about once every four years. An estimated 17.5% of all North Atlantic tropical cyclones have affected the state.This list documents 52 tropical cyclones known to have affected the state between 2000 and the present. The most active month is September, with 20 total storms, while November is the least active month with two storms. While the most intense storm was Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Hurricane Florence in 2018 was the most destructive and caused the most fatalities. The first storm to impact the state during the period was Hurricane Florence in September 2000, and the most recent was Hurricane Michael in October 2018; with Hurricane Florence in September 2018 before. In terms of windspeeds, Hurricane Isabel was the strongest storm to affect the state, producing maximum sustained winds equivalent to Category 2 status on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale.

Lumberton, North Carolina

Lumberton is a city in Robeson County, North Carolina, United States. It is the county seat of Robeson County, which is the largest county in the state by land area.Located in southern North Carolina's Inner Banks region, Lumberton is located on the Lumber River. It was founded in 1787 by John Willis, an officer in the American Revolution. This was developed as a shipping point for lumber used by the Navy, and logs were guided downriver to Georgetown, South Carolina. Most of the town's growth took place after World War II.

Surfing in a Hurricane

"Surfing in a Hurricane" is a song performed by American popular music singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and written by Buffett and Will Kimbrough. It is the ninth track from his 2009 album Buffet Hotel.

Tropical Storm Florence

The name Florence was used for ten tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, and five tropical cyclones in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Whose Boat Is This Boat?

Whose Boat Is This Boat?: Comments That Don't Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane is a 2018 children's book credited to U.S. President Donald Trump and compiled by the staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It is composed of statements made by Trump during his visit to affected areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Proceeds from sales are to be donated to organizations that support victims of both Florence and the later Hurricane Michael. According to The Late Show, as of December 19, 2018, it has sold over 400,000 copies and raised $1.5 million.

Tropical cyclones of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season
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