The outer bands of Hurricane Florence made contact with North Carolina barrier islands on Thursday. Wind speeds subsided slightly following the storm’s crossing of the Atlantic’s continental shelf, thus placing the storm within the first category of the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Estimates of storm surge levels still lie upwards of ten feet.
The eye of the storm crossed the coastline earlier this morning, but wind and rain systems are projected to grind along the states’ coastlines for several days.
Hurricanes are erratic by nature, and their paths are subject to change by even small upsets in atmospheric conditions.
The structure of a hurricane or typhoon is best described as a toroid, and is characterized by the presence of storm surges.
Storm surges are colossal freak waves whose crests and troughs collectively interfere to create massive bulges in the water’s surface.
Surges, next to high wind, are one of the most devastating aspects of typhoons and hurricanes.
Prediction of the amplitude of a storm surge relies on understanding of local bathymetry; the size and speed of the storm itself; position and progression of the storm track relative to the coastline; and astronomical tide.
The collective measure of storm surge and astronomical tide as the total level of seawater during a hurricane is referred to as storm tide, and varies from storm to storm based on the positioning of astrological bodies.
Hurricanes occurring during Full and New Moons (spring tide; the alignment of the earth, moon and sun; or syzygy) are liable to have deadly and gargantuan surges.
The moon is nearer to its first quarter currently and displays what is known as quadrature.
Conjecture places the projected amplitude of Florence’s surges somewhere in the neighborhood of thirteen feet above sea level, with surges of ten feet already assailing several coastal towns.
Such high numbers hypothesize the ruin of many homes and businesses.
“It’s getting worse. The storm is going to continue it’s violent grind across our state for days,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
Florence, despite having been reassigned to Category 1, is expected to move slowly, without actually subsiding for several days.
Florence’s rainfall is estimated to reach 40 inches within three days in certain parts of the Carolinas which is a largely unprecedented level of precipitation in such a small time frame.
People in the town of New Bern, NC have already conducted upwards of 200 rescues in the rising water; and still as of 11:45 ET today an estimated 150 persons remain in peril.
The storm is also expected to wreak havoc on the state’s agricultural waste management systems, thus adding a biological component to the disaster at hand.
As of this morning, Florence had stripped power from over 500,000 customers; forced 26,000 to flee their homes in favor of one of 200 emergency shelters; cancelled 11,000 flights and counting; and deployed 4,000 members of the National Guard as well as 40,000 electrical workers to minimize damage to the power grid.
Writers tackling the story at CNN say of Florence: “hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles from Florence’s center. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina through Saturday, punishing the area over and over with rain and damaging winds.”
Developments on the storm are being charted faithfully, with more updates expected soon.d