Florence leaves dangerous flooding, 32 dead in Carolinas

Florence leaves dangerous flooding, 32 dead in Carolinas
Flooding in New Hanover County, NC (Alex Giles)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Florence was downgraded to a Tropical Depression around 5 a.m. Sunday as massive flooding and high winds continued to create life-threatening conditions in the Carolinas.

A Flash Flood Emergency was issued for Charlotte and South Mecklenburg County, and the Flash Flood Warning for Union County was upgraded to a Flash Flood Emergency.

In Union County, the National Weather Service emergency management reported as many as 70 roads flooded countywide and several water rescues underway.

They have also requested that people stay off the roads this afternoon until floodwaters subside.

Flash Flood Emergencies Declared for Mecklenburg County

A Flash Flood Warning was issued for Mecklenburg County as heavy tropical bands are setting up over the city. Creeks are expected to rise above flood stages.

A news conference held by FEMA on Saturday emphasized that while Florence is now moving slowly, it will still bring heavy rainfall that affects Charlotte through the weekend. The agency also cautioned members of the public about the hazards that rising waters and falling debris could create. Southeastern North Carolina remains under threat of tornadoes and will continue to experience “catastrophic flooding” during this time.

Officials said Monday evening that 32 deaths have resulted from Florence. 25 of those deaths were in North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.

Tornadoes struck Virginia Monday, killing one person.

“River flooding is dynamic and is happening all over the state as we speak,” Cooper said.

Florence officially made landfall near Wilmington, NC, around 6 a.m. Friday with max sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. The Carolinas continue preparing for anticipated catastrophic flooding, massive power outages, destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, torrential rainfall, and possible tornadoes.

Over the weekend, wind gusts of 35 to 50 miles per hour are expected in the Charlotte area along with a tornado threat. Flooding from 5 to possibly 15 inches of rain was predicted.

Both North and South Carolina declared a State of Emergency. Hurricane Warnings were also in effect for the entire NC coast and portions of the SC coastline. Millions of people were evacuated inland, and many schools and businesses closed ahead of the storm.

Florence’s heavy rains bring major concern of river flooding. NC Emergency Management tweeted a graph with what’s normal and what’s expected for some rivers over the next several days. The South Fork Catawba at Lowell could enter major flooding stage Monday.

On Thursday, Flash Flood Watches were issued until 8 a.m. Tuesday for the following NC and SC counties in the WBTV viewing area: Alexander County, Avery County, Burke County, Cabarrus County, Caldwell County, Catawba County, Chester County, Chesterfield County, Cleveland County, Gaston County, Iredell County, Lancaster County, Lincoln County, McDowell County, Mecklenburg County, Rowan County, Union County, York County.

As of 11:30 p.m. Saturday, power outages in North Carolina were at 666,211 with the highest concentration in New Hanover, Brunswick, Carteret, Cumberland and Onslow counties, according to NC Emergency Management.

Downed trees, traffic light outages and road closures were also seen in the Charlotte area.

STAY ALERT: You can receive hurricane updates delivered to you with the free WBTV First Alert Weather app. You can choose which alerts you’d like to receive, including severe weather warnings for your home location plus anywhere you have property or family. Download the app here.

Monday 5:30 a.m. update:

The last vestiges of Florence are still affecting the portions of the WBTV viewing area, with strong thunderstorms east of Charlotte towards Wadesboro and Hamlet.

This Monday will greet us with mostly cloudy skies along with very warm and muggy conditions. Morning starts will be in the lower seventies. We will begin to see a few breaks in the cloud cover as we head deeper into the day. A bit of sunshine may also act as a trigger for scattered afternoon showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Our drying trend will take us into the middle of the week with mainly sunny skies and some very warm temperature reading. Sunny, hot and highs in the upper 80’s Wednesday. Our rain chances will remain low through the end of the work week.

Heading into the weekend, our chances for afternoon thunderstorms will come us slightly. Right now, we’ll call it a 30% chance for afternoon storms Saturday and Sunday. Still hot for September, with afternoon highs in the upper and mid 80’s.

Have a great Monday!

- Meteorologist Chris Larson

Sunday 11 p.m. update:

We are finally about to say good-bye to Florence. I’m not sure anyone will miss her.

There will be the possibility of showers through the night and even a few left on Monday morning - but nothing like we have seen the past few days.

Monday will be mainly cloudy with a few showers possible. Toward afternoon, we could see a few thunderstorms. The same will go for Tuesday. Highs both days will be in the mid 80s. It will still be pretty muggy.

The second half of the week will be a nice change. After all the rain we have gotten, there is a 0-10% chance for rain the rest of the week. By next weekend, the afternoon t-storm chance returns. Highs will remain in the 80s.

This is one weekend we would all probably like to forget. Hope everyone is able to dry out and get back to normal soon.

- Meteorologist Leigh Brock

Sunday 6 p.m. update:

A 3-month-old boy was killed when a tree fell on a home in Gaston County. The incident happened around 4:15 p.m. on Moses Court in Dallas.

After the tree fell the child was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Gaston County officials said they believe the tree fell because of the high winds and the ground saturation.

Sunday, 5 p.m. update:

A Flash Flood Emergency remains in effect for southern and central Mecklenburg County until 7:30 tonight, as well as a Flash Flood emergency for Union county until 7:15.

Warned areas have seen flooding rainfall in the range of 7 to 10 inches. Rain in Mecklenburg and Union counties will slowly begin to taper off later tonight.

Torrential rains continue to hammer portions of the WBTV viewing area. Some of the heaviest rain in the Charlotte metro area will slowly start to shift to the north and east of the metro through Sunday night. At 4:45 Sunday evening heavy rain was still falling in Concord, Salisbury and Albemarle.

Tonight, heavier rains will also begin to move into the NC High Country. Flash flooding will be a concern for Watauga, Ashe, and Avery counties with heavy rains late tonight and early into Monday morning.

Florence has been downgraded to Tropical Depression status. The center of circulation is now centered just to the south and west of Columbia, SC. The forward speed has increased to 8 mph as Florence continues to track west.

Finally, on Monday we will begin to see Florence lift out of the region. Down the road we will have several of days to dry out starting on Tuesday. Hot and muggy conditions will take us into the middle of the work week.

Sunday, 12 p.m. update:

The National Hurricane Center has issued its last advisory on Florence. This storm system has now been handed off to the Weather Prediction Center.

Sunday, 9 a.m. update:

Torrential rains continue to hammer the Charlotte metro area here on Sunday morning as a train of rain that extends all the way to the South Carolina coast brings round after round of heavy rain into the area.

Florence has been downgraded to Tropical Depression status. The center of circulation is now centered just to the south and west of Columbia, SC. The forward speed has increased to 8 mph as Florence continues to track west.

With this slow movement, bands of heavy rain will be with us through Sunday evening. Sunday night as the heaviest rains begin to abate in the Charlotte area, the rain will intensify in the foothills and the mountains.

Finally, on Monday we will begin to see Florence lift out of the region. Down the road we will have several of days to dry out starting on Tuesday. Hot and muggy conditions will take us into the middle of the work week.

Sunday, 5 a.m. update:

With the 5 a.m. update on Florence, the storm has finally weakened to a Tropical Depression, nearly 48 hours after making landfall. Winds are down to 35mph with movement to the west at 8mph.

Rain so far has been heaviest for our far Southeastern counties, where over 5" have fallen since yesterday morning. Totals drop off from there across the Charlotte Metro where most areas have picked up 2-3". North and west of the city & I-85, amounts were generally an inch or two at best.

However, we're only halfway done with this. Rain will continue heavy at times today and some steadier bands will rotate up through the mountains.

As of 5am the peak wind gust reported at the Charlotte airport was 47mph, which happened after midnight. Monroe has gusted as high as 52mph. Occasional gusts 40-50mph will be common through the first part of the day, before the stronger winds rotate up into the mountains and ease up a bit for the rest of us.

Finally, we are under a marginal-slight risk for severe storms today as outlined by the Storm Prediction Center. This means that isolated-scattered severe thunderstorms are possible. If we can get enough instability there could be a brief spin-up this afternoon or evening, and we would not be surprised to see our Southeastern counties added to a Tornado Watch at some point for later today. Otherwise, all areas remain under a Wind Advisory and a Flash Flood Watch.

The good news is that Monday shows continued signs of improvement. Left-over areas of rain may last through early in the morning for some, but then we should actually see some midday sun, which could fuel an additional late day shower or storm. Either way, the storm will be pulling away at this point so conditions will be improving and temps return to the 80s.

Sunday, 2 a.m. update:

The latest Florence update is in and the storm is still a tropical storm with 40 mph winds. Hopefully by the next update it will be a depression.

Heavy rain and gusty winds continue to affect the WBTV viewing area. Some of the highest winds are taking place right now and will continue much of the night. Gusts could exceed 40 mph. By morning, the winds should at least back off a tad. It will still be breezy Sunday but not as windy as tonight.

The rain will continue tonight and into Sunday. If you think you’ve gotten off easy, there is more rain in store for Sunday. Don’t let your guard down.

Be safe and we’ll keep you posted!

Saturday, 11 p.m. update:

We have been monitoring Florence for days now. Have you had enough yet?

Give it about 24 more hours…

Here’s the good news. As of the 11pm update, the winds around Florence are down to 40mph. The storm will likely be a depression by early Sunday morning.

Remember, the storm has been crawling along between 2-3mph all day. That means that we still haven’t seen the worst of it. Our rain is likely to pick up tonight and tomorrow. We could see an additional 5” of rain by the time all is said and done.

Winds – those are going to pick up tonight too. We could see 45+mph winds tonight and tomorrow morning. The worst of those will be tonight and Sunday morning for Charlotte and areas south. For the foothills, your highest winds should be during the day on Sunday. By evening, we should all start to see improvement.

Saturday, 8 p.m. update:

The 8p.m. update looks almost exactly like the 5 p.m. update. Winds are still at 45 mph and the storm is only moving to the west at 2 mph.

For the WBTV viewing area, another batch of heavy rain is coming our way. Some spots have already gotten 2-4” of rain. It will be a very wet night and a wet day on Sunday.

Winds are really picking up the farther south and east you go. Especially our South Carolina counties and our easternmost NC counties are seeing wind gusts at or above 40mph. The highest winds will move into Charlotte and the surrounding areas overnight. We could all see gusts over 40mph. By morning, Charlotte and areas south will start to see the winds come down. That is when the foothills and mountains will get the worst of it – during the day on Sunday.

We will all see improvement by the end of Sunday. On Monday, we will see the storm finally pulling to the north and leaving us alone.

Saturday, 5 p.m. update:

The most striking thing about the new Florence update is that the storm is STILL creeping along! Since making landfall, the storm went from moving at about 17mph to moving between 3-5mph. Now, it is barely moving at 2mph. That is horrible news for those in eastern NC and SC who have been pounded by heavy rains for a day and a half now. There are ridiculous rainfall totals, as you can see on the rain total map. Keep in mind though, those are radar indicated totals. With tropical systems, the raindrops tend to be very small, so the radar tends to underestimate the totals. That’s right…. underestimate. Many spots have picked up 20”+.

The storm is making progress and has been throwing the outer rain bands our way all day. There are some spots in Mecklenburg Co which have already picked up to 2” of rain. Our eastern counties have gotten 4” in some places already. Obviously, we are still on the front side of the system and we will continue to pick up rain all night and into Sunday. Our totals still look to be on track – with 5-10” possible just about anywhere and areas southeast of Charlotte possibly picking up over a foot of rain this weekend.

Then there are the winds… We have already seen wind gusts over 30mph. This evening and tonight, we could see sustained winds of 15-25mph, with gusts over 40mph. There have already been power outages and there will likely be more as the storm heads west.

Stay safe! We are working around the clock to keep you updated.

Saturday, 3 p.m. update:

Conditions in the WBTV viewing area will continue to deteriorate here Saturday evening as heavy bands of rain from Florence move across the region.

Sustained winds will be in the range of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph.

The window for heavy and steady rain extends from Saturday evening through Sunday morning, as the center of low pressure slowly (slooooooowly) pushes west towards Columbia, SC. Tropical storm force wind gusts can be expected into late Sunday morning.

Trees and limbs have already taken down powerlines across the Charlotte metro. Power crews are working to restore power, but as conditions worsen crews will have to pull back from their repairs and wait for the storm force winds to abate.

Heavy rains and potential flooding still pose the greatest threats during the next 24-hours. Many of the more reliable computer models continue to show 5 to 8 inches of rain across the piedmont of NC.

Areas south of Charlotte may see 8 to 12 inches of rain.

Saturday, 11 a.m. update:

Conditions in the WBTV viewing area will continue to deteriorate here Saturday. The northern bands of Florence are now stretching west and heavier rains are moving into Charlotte. Winds have also been blustery this morning. Sustained winds are in the range of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Winds: It now appears that some of the strongest winds with Florence may affect the WBTV viewing area last this afternoon and into Saturday night. Winds will likely be sustained out of the NE at 15 to 25 mph, with winds gusts peaking above 50 mph late today.

The window for heavy and steady rain extends from Saturday morning through Sunday morning, as the center of low pressure slowly (slooooooowly) pushes west towards Columbia, SC. The intensity of the wind will also increase throughout the day. Tropical storm force wind gusts can be expected Saturday afternoon and evening. Trees and limbs have already taken down powerlines across the Charlotte metro. Power crews are working to restore power, but as conditions worsen crews will have to pull back from their repairs and wait for the storm force winds to abate.

Heavy rains and potential flooding still pose the greatest threats during the next 24-hours. Many of the more reliable computer models continue to show 6 to 10 inches of rain across the piedmont of NC. Areas south of Charlotte may see 10 to 15 inches of rain.

Saturday, 5 a.m. update:

As of 5am Florence is still a Tropical Storm but the winds are down to 50 mph, still drifting W-SW at 5 mph. The center is located 35 miles West of Myrtle Beach and 45 miles SE of Florence, SC.

Locally, our rain will continue to overspread from EAST to WEST throughout the morning. As of 5am, we already have some of the heavier bands moving into Stanly County. By the time most folks are getting up to get their day started in the Charlotte area - 8, 9, or 10am, the heavy rain will be moving into the city as it overspreads from East to West.

By the afternoon, it will be raining heavily for all areas along and east of I-77. The mountains and foothills may not see much during the first half of the day. Most of the rain there - at least the heavy stuff - will come later in the day.

By tonight though, heavy tropical rains will be encompassing the entire WBTV viewing area. Gusts up to 50 mph will begin this afternoon, and linger right through the night, as the heavy rain starts to pull down some of those stronger winds from aloft. Heavy rain and wind will last right through the night, and so we do expect more folks to continue to lose power as the day wears on.

More rain comes Sunday, and that’s when our concern for isolated tornadoes and flash flooding kicks in.

Saturday, 2 a.m. update

Not much has changed with the Florence forecast. Winds are only down slightly. They are still at 60 mph. The storm is slowly drifting WSW at 5 mph.

The storm has been hugging the coast all day but will slowly (because it has done everything slowly) start to turn more inland overnight. Conditions should start to deteriorate during the day on Saturday. We could still be looking at winds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. Rain totals haven’t backed off any. We are still looking at 5-6” of rain for just about anyone. Our South Carolina counties could possibly pick up over a foot of rain. So could the eastern slopes of the mountains.

Be safe and enjoy some time inside this weekend!

Below are the latest statistics from the National Hurricane Center:

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground...

  • The Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers...4-7 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet NC to Cape Lookout NC...2-4 ft
  • Cape Lookout NC to Cape Fear NC...3-5 ft
  • Cape Fear NC to Myrtle Beach SC...2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina...an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals of 30 to 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash

flooding and prolonged significant river flooding. Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches. This rainfall will

produce life-threatening flash flooding. Newport, North Carolina reported a rainfall total of almost 24 inches.

WIND: Tropical storm conditions will continue through today in portions of the warning area along the coast and also over large portions of eastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South

Carolina, with tropical storm force wind gusts spreading well inland.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina through tonight.

SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

Friday 11 p.m. update

The storm has weakened a little more. Still it has winds of 65mph.

The track hasn’t changed much. It has been pretty consistent for a few days now. The center of the storm will stay to the south of us. That has been the thinking all along. There could be a few quickly passing showers overnight. Saturday is when things should begin to go downhill. The rain will pick up and so will the winds.

We won’t see hurricane force winds – not even close. The problem is the amount of time we will see the wind blowing. With rain and a saturated ground added into the mix, that’s a recipe for trees and power lines to come down. That’s when you start to think about power outages. As far as rain is concerned, we could see a lot. We are looking at 5-6” at least. Some places from Charlotte, down to SC and the eastern slopes of the mountains could see 10”+ of rain by the time things wrap up on Monday .

Tornadoes are always a possibility with a landfalling hurricane. While the risk is relatively small, it isn’t zero. We will monitor the situation all weekend.

Friday, 8 p.m. update

The 8pm update is in… Florence is STILL a tropical storm with 70mph winds. That’s after spending a whole day over land.

The storm has left incredible rainfall totals across the eastern part of the state. You can see the accumulation map.

The track remains about the same as it has all day.

Conditions will deteriorate through the day on Saturday and it will be rainy and windy all day on Sunday. It may not be before Monday that we see the storm finally move on.

Gov. McMaster 3 p.m. press conference:

Hurricane Florence SC Update

HAPPENING NOW: SC Gov. Henry McMaster providing updates and guidance on the latest information about Hurricane Florence's impact in South Carolina MORE » https://bit.ly/2CN3VNx

Posted by WBTV News on Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday, 11 a.m. update

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Florence continues to pound the North Carolina coast... and the storm has slowed to just 3 mph.

The Wilmington area has seen flooding rains and clocked winds gusting over 100 mph as Florence hit the area this morning. Flooding rains continue to fall from Wilmington up the coast to the south reaches of the Outer Banks. Heavy rains have already shift east into the Raleigh area and portions of central North Carolina.

For the WBTV viewing area, our eastern counties will begin to experience higher winds and heavier bands of rain as we head into Friday evening. Conditions in the Charlotte metro will deteriorate during the day on Saturday. The heaviest rain will arrive late Saturday night and overnight into Sunday morning. Expect torrential periods of rain during the day on Sunday.

With the storm now tracking south of Charlotte into the Columbia area, we will see some very heavy and hefty rainfall amounts. In Charlotte 6 to 8 inches of rain are possible. To the east of Charlotte, the rainfall amounts are even higher. Areas like Albemarle and Rockingham could see 15 to 20 inches of rain.

Here are some of the main hazards that can be expected over the next 24 to 48 hours along the North Carolina coast and areas just inland. This is the latest from the 11 am update from the National Hurricane Center:

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground...

  • Cape Fear NC to Cape Lookout NC...7-11 ft, with locally higher amounts in the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers
  • Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC...6-9 ft
  • South Santee River SC to Cape Fear NC...4-6 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet NC to Salvo NC...4-6 ft
  • Salvo NC to Duck NC...2-4 ft
  • Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC...2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina...an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals of 30 to 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.

Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches. This rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding.

Rainfall totals exceeding 14 inches thus far have been reported at several locations across southeastern North Carolina.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina today.

SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

Gov. Cooper 11 a.m. press conference:

LIVE NOW: Gov. Cooper discusses 485k+ power outages, flash flood warnings and "catastrophic rainfall" in North Carolina. Follow the latest on Hurricane Florence here: https://bit.ly/2CN3VNx

Posted by WBTV News on Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday, 8 a.m. update:

Hurricane has made landfall on the NC coastline near Wilmington. The Wilmington area is now seeing torrential rains and winds gusting to 90 to 100 mph. Flooding rains are slamming the coast and inland areas. At the same time the storm has slowed to a crawl, moving WNW at 5 mph. This amounts to Florence slamming the same areas over and over during most of Friday.

For the WBTV viewing area, our eastern counties will begin to experience higher winds and a better chance for bands of rain as we head into Friday evening. Conditions in the Charlotte metro will deteriorate during the day on Saturday. The heaviest rain will arrive late Saturday night and overnight into Sunday morning. Expect torrential periods of rain during the day on Sunday.

With the storm now tracking south of Charlotte into the Columbia area, we will see some very heavy and hefty rainfall amounts. In Charlotte 6 to 8 inches of rain are possible. To the east of Charlotte, the rainfall amounts are even higher. Areas like Albemarle and Rockingham could see 15 to 20 inches of rain.

Here are some of the main hazards that can be expected over the next 24 to 48 hours along the North Carolina coast and areas just inland. This is the latest from the 11 am update from the National Hurricane Center.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground...

  • Cape Fear NC to Cape Lookout NC...7-11 ft, with locally higher amounts in the Neuse, Pamlico, and Bay Rivers 
  • Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC...6-9 ft
  • South Santee River SC to Cape Fear NC...4-6 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet NC to Salvo NC...4-6 ft
  • Salvo NC to Duck NC...2-4 ft
  • Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC...2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina...20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.

Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches. This rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are occuring over portions of the coast of North Carolina and are expected to spread across portions of southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina through today. Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread inland across the remainder of the warning area through Saturday.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern and southeastern North Carolina through today.

SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas.

These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

Friday 6 a.m. update:

As of 6 AM Friday, Hurricane has made landfall on the NC coastline near Wilmington. The Wilmington area is now seeing torrential rains and winds gusting to 90 mph. Flooding rains are slamming the coast and inland areas. At the same time the storm has slowed to a crawl, moving WNW at 5 mph. This amounts to Florence slamming the same areas over and over during most of Friday.

For the WBTV viewing area, our eastern counties will begin to experience higher winds and a better chance for bands of rain as we head into Friday evening. Conditions in the Charlotte metro will deteriorate during the day on Saturday. The heaviest rain will arrive late Saturday night and overnight into Sunday morning. Expect torrential periods of rain during the day on Sunday.

With the storm now tracking south of Charlotte into the Columbia area, we will see some very heavy and hefty rainfall amounts. In Charlotte 6 to 8 inches of rain are possible. To the east of Charlotte, the rainfall amounts are even higher. Areas like Albemarle and Rockingham could see 15 to 20 inches of rain.

Friday, Sept. 14 5 a.m. update:

As of 5 AM Friday, Hurricane Florence is now a Cat 1 hurricane. The center of circulation is now about 30 miles off the coast of Wilmington. Flooding rains are slamming the coast and inland areas. At the same time the storm has slowed to a crawl, moving WNW at 6 mph. This amounts to Florence slamming the same areas over and over during most of Friday.

For the WBTV viewing area, our eastern counties will begin to experience higher winds and a better chance for bands of rain as we head into Friday evening. Conditions in the Charlotte metro will deteriorate during the day on Saturday. The heaviest rain will arrive late Saturday night and overnight into Sunday morning. Expect torrential periods of rain during the day on Sunday.

With the storm now tracking south of Charlotte into the Columbia area, we will see some very heavy and hefty rainfall amounts. In Charlotte 6 to 8 inches of rain are possible. To the east of Charlotte, the rainfall amounts are even higher. Areas like Albemarle and Rockingham could see 15 to 20 inches of rain.

NC Governor warns “disaster is at the doorstep” as Hurricane Florence nears

Thursday, Sept. 13 11 p.m. update

Hurricane Florence has weakened a little more and is now a category 1 storm. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the winds aren’t the worst part of this storm.

The storm is projected to make landfall on Friday morning, but they will see flooding rain and winds picking up all night long ahead of the storm.

In eastern NC, rainfall may be measured in feet, rather than inches.

It sill slowly make progress to the west northwest. That will take it just south of us by Sunday.

That means a rough weekend in the Carolinas.

We could see some rain and gusty winds as early as Friday. Saturday and Sunday will bring heavy rains and gusty winds.

Winds will be 30-40mph as a general rule, but gusts could be as high as 50mph. The rain will be the biggest issue.

In the WBTV viewing area, we could see six to eight inches by Tuesday. The eastern slopes of the mountains could get more than 10 nches of rain.

Be safe and we will keep you posted!

Thursday, Sept. 13 8 p.m. update

As of the 8pm update, the winds around Florence at still around 100mph. That is category 2 status.

While we don't have the cat 4 that we originally did, don't let your guard down. The inland issues haven't changed much at all.

The weaker storm is a little better news for the coast. (Still not great because they are going to be pounded with heavy rain for almost an entire day.) That’s becoming the bigger concern not only for them but also for us.

We should expect rain and wind gusts as early as Friday in the WBTV viewing area.

Winds will pick up over the weekend. Our highest winds will likely be Saturday night and into Sunday. There could be 30-40mph wind gusts, with some up to 50mph.

Rain will be the heaviest Saturday through Monday, as the storm finally starts to move on. We have the potential for 6-10″ of rain - with higher totals on the eastern side of the mountains.

There is also a small tornado risk Saturday and Sunday.

We will continue to watch this as it unfolds over the next few days.

Thursday, Sept. 13 5 p.m. update

At the 2 p.m. update, winds were 105mph. Now they are down to 100mph. That isn’t a huge difference and that isn’t a reason to let your guard down.

Not much has changed as far as what we should expect in the WBTV viewing area.

Heavy rain continues to be the biggest concern for us over the weekend.

We could see 6-8″ from Charlotte, south. From Charlotte to the foothills, 4-6″ are possible. The mountains could be looking at an extra upslope influence. That could mean 6-10″ in some spots.

The heaviest rain will likely be Sunday and Monday. Gusty winds are also likely, especially the farther south you go.

Tropical storm force winds could impact our weekend. The highest winds will likely be on Saturday and Sunday. There’s also a small tornado risk.

We will continue to monitor around the clock.

Thursday, Sept. 13 2 p.m. update

A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for nearly the entire WBTV-viewing area.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster alerted the people of South Carolina during his 2:30 p.m. press update ahead of Hurricane Florence.

“We’ve now had 421,000 people who have actually evacuated,” McMaster said. “If you have not left these evacuation zones, you should leave now, because time is running out.”

Gov. McMaster says once the winds get to a very dangerous level, the state is going to stand down emergency responders until the winds subside, so if you decide to stay, you may have to to fend for your own safety for multiple days.

“This is a different kind of hurricane,” McMaster said. “The unpredictability of this storm has been demonstrated so far.”

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Hurricane Florence had weakened just slightly from the morning report. Still, the wind field has grown much larger. Tropical storm force winds now extend outwards from the center of circulation some 195 miles… and hurricane force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of circulation.

The outer bands of Florence have begun lashing the North Carolina coastline along the Outer Banks. Florence is forecast to make land fall around the Wilmington area early Friday morning. Aside from the damaging winds, the greatest threat along the coast will be a massive storm surge and torrential rains. Models depict 20” to 30” inches of rain in coastal areas of North Carolina.

A Flash Flood Watch has now been issued in advance of Florence rain this weekend. It will go into effect Saturday morning until Tuesday morning. 6-10 inches of rain with locally higher amounts possible.
A Flash Flood Watch has now been issued in advance of Florence rain this weekend. It will go into effect Saturday morning until Tuesday morning. 6-10 inches of rain with locally higher amounts possible.

In the Charlotte area and across the WBTV viewing area conditions here will begin to deteriorate by Friday night. The worst of the storm for us will be during the day on Saturday. We may experience tropical storm force winds, along with torrential rain as we go from Saturday into Sunday. Rainfall estimates for the Charlotte area range from 4 inches to 8 inches of rain. Some areas in the NC mountains may see more than a foot of rain.

Below are some of the main hazards that can be expected over the next 24 to 48 hours along the North Carolina coast and areas just inland. This is the latest from the 11 am update from the National Hurricane Center.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

  • Cape Fear NC to Cape Lookout NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers...9-13 ft
  • North Myrtle Beach SC to Cape Fear NC...6-9 ft
  • Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC...6-9 ft
  • South Santee River SC to North Myrtle Beach SC...4-6 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet NC to Salvo NC...4-6 ft
  • Salvo NC to North Carolina/Virginia Border...2-4 ft
  • Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC...2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

Coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina...20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.

Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the coast within the hurricane warning area this evening or early Friday. Tropical storm conditions are already moving onshore within the warning area.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.

Thursday, Sept. 13 12 p.m. update

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Florence had weakened just slightly from the morning report. Still, the wind field has grown much larger.

Tropical storm force winds now extend outwards from the center of circulation some 195 miles... and hurricane force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of circulation.

Governor Roy Cooper warned North Carolina residents not to “underestimate the storm” in his Thursday morning briefing.

“The bands of this massive storm will soon be lashing our coasts,” he said. “This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina.”

The outer bands of Florence have begun lashing the North Carolina coastline along the Outer Banks. Florence is forecast to make land fall around the Wilmington area early Friday morning. Aside from the damaging winds, the greatest threat along the coast will be a massive storm surge and torrential rains. Models depict 20” to 30” inches of rain in coastal areas of North Carolina.

In the Charlotte area and across the WBTV viewing area conditions here will begin to deteriorate by Friday night. The worst of the storm for us will be during the day on Saturday. We may experience tropical storm force winds, along with torrential rain as we go from Saturday into Sunday.

Rainfall estimates for the Charlotte area range from 4 inches to 8 inches of rain. Some areas in the NC mountains may see more than a foot of rain.

Here are some of the main hazards that can be expected over the next 24 to 48 hours along the North Carolina coast and areas just inland. This is the latest from the 11 am update from the National Hurricane Center.

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

  • Cape Fear NC to Cape Lookout NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers...9-13 ft
  • North Myrtle Beach SC to Cape Fear NC...6-9 ft
  • Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC...6-9 ft
  • South Santee River SC to North Myrtle Beach SC...4-6 ft
  • Ocracoke Inlet NC to Salvo NC...4-6 ft
  • Salvo NC to North Carolina/Virginia Border...2-4 ft
  • Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC...2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

  • Coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina...20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.
  • Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 24 inches.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the coast within the hurricane warning area this evening or early Friday. Tropical storm conditions are already moving onshore within the warning area.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.

Thursday, Sept. 13 5:30 a.m. update

While hurricane Florence has weakened in intensity somewhat over the last 24 hours, the wind field has grown much larger. Tropical storm force winds now extend outwards from the center of circulation some 195 miles… and hurricane force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of circulation.

The outer bands of Florence will begin lashing the North Carolina coastline later this morning. And land fall is still expected around the Wilmington area early Friday morning. Aside from the damaging winds, the greatest threat along the coast will be a massive storm surge and torrential rains. Models depict 20” to 30” inches of rain in coastal areas of North Carolina.

In the Charlotte area and across the WBTV viewing area conditions here will begin to deteriorate by Friday night. The worst of the storm for us will be during the day on Saturday. We may experience tropical storm force winds, along with torrential rain as we go from Saturday into Sunday. Rainfall estimates for the Charlotte area range from 4 inches to 8 inches of rain. Some areas in the NC mountains may see more than a foot of rain.

Wednesday, Sept. 12 11 p.m. update

As of 11pm, Florence has weakened further, and the intensity forecast through tomorrow has also been reduced.

Satellite data and reports from hurricane hunter aircraft indicate significant changes in the structure of Florence since the last advisory due to the influence of upper-level wind shear.

As a result, the maximum winds are now 110mph which reduces Florence to a high-end Category 2 storm.

Florence is forecast to maintain steady strength before a Wilmington-area landfall early Friday morning (it’s currently 280 miles away).

This is also an update to the prior track which had the landfall a little farther south, near Myrtle Beach.

With less time over water the winds should be around 90-100mph around landfall, or a Category 1 storm.

Wednesday Sept. 12 8 p.m. update

Florence has again weakened slightly, but still remains a major category 3 hurricane with winds of 115mph. We really don't want people to get too hung up on this weakening, because the devastating flooding impacts will remain the same.

As of 8pm Wednesday, Florence is now about 335mi SE of Wilmington and will get very close to there with 115mph winds by Friday morning. From there, the movement really stalls as the storm drifts southward towards Myrtle Beach where the landfall is now expected sometime early Saturday.

Beyond that, there has not been much of a change to the inland track, still putting the center of the storm to our south meaning we will be feeling the breeze pick up Friday, really getting gusty Saturday, and seeing some of the heaviest rain in our area Sunday into Monday (in addition to a small tornado threat those days as well).

With the slightly slower and southward track of Florence, we have now issued a First Alert Day for Monday in addition to Saturday and Sunday. The trends as of this afternoon are indicating that the worst conditions in terms of heaviest rain and the tornado threat may be Sunday into Monday for the WBTV viewing area.

A First Alert Day will remain in effect for Saturday as well as damaging wind gusts of 30-40mph ( isolated to 50mph) will begin to develop. However, the heaviest and most widespread rain likely holds off until the second half of the weekend, perhaps into early next week.

Wednesday Sept. 12 5 p.m. update

Florence has again weakened slightly, but still remains a major category 3 hurricane with winds of 120mph. We really don't want people to get too hung up on this, because the devastating flooding impacts will remain the same.

Florence is now about 385mi SE of Wilmington and will get very close to there with 115mph winds by Friday morning. From there, the movement really stalls as the storm drifts southward towards Myrtle Beach where the landfall is now expected sometime early Saturday.

Beyond that, there has not been much of a change to the inland track, still putting the center of the storm to our south meaning we will be feeling the breeze pick up Friday, really getting gusty Saturday, and seeing some of the heaviest rain in our area Sunday into Monday (in addition to a small tornado threat those days as well).

Governor Cooper warned residents of North Carolina that the time to prepare for Hurricane Florence is almost over during his second press conference Wednesday.

“If you’ve been asked to evacuate, don’t wait. Leave now. You put your life at risk by staying,” Cooper said during his 5 p.m. conference. "Three quarters of a million to one million North Carolinians have been asked to evacuated.”

Gov. Cooper called the next few days a miracle and not a sprint.

“We are on the wrong side of this storm, where most of the damage is done,” the governor said. "Plan to be without power for days. check on your family and neighbors to make sure they are prepared as well.”

“The storm surge alone is likely to flood tens of thousands of structures. A storm doesn’t have to make landfall in north Carolina to do serious damage here,” Cooper continued. “At least 50 shelters are open now across the state.”

Cooper said the 211 number is available 24 hours a day for people in need of assistance. He also urged people looking to volunteer to do so through established non-profits and faith-based groups.

NC Governor warns “disaster is at the doorstep” as Hurricane Florence nears

Wednesday Sept. 12 2 p.m. update

With the slightly slower and southward track of Florence, we have now issued a First Alert Day for Monday in addition to Saturday and Sunday.

The trends as of Wednesday afternoon are indicating that the worst conditions in terms of heaviest rain and the tornado threat may be Sunday into Monday for the WBTV viewing area.

A First Alert Day will remain in effect for Saturday as well as damaging wind gusts of 30-40mph ( isolated to 50mph) will begin to develop. However, the heaviest and most widespread rain likely holds off until the second half of the weekend, perhaps into early next week.

Florence slightly weakened at 2 pm, down to Category 3 with winds of 125mph, but wind field has expanded, with hurricane force winds now extending 70mi from the center.

There will be fluctuations in intensity through Thursday morning, but Florence is still expected to re-strengthen back to Category 4 and the highest intensity forecast as of now has winds getting up to 145mph Thursday morning before steady weakening thereafter.

The afternoon run of the Euro is not nearly as far south as the morning run. It puts our southern/western counties in the near worst-case scenario of heavy rain/tornado threat Sunday into Monday.

Wednesday, Sept. 12 11 a.m. Update:

Florence’s track nudged only slightly south from previous forecast, calls for Saturday landfall near Myrtle Beach. A track through the SC Midlands over the weekend would bring a heavy rain / flood / tornado threat to WBTV News area during the Sunday-Monday period.

Early call for 6″-12″+ of rain (more possible in SE counties and mountains) and wind gusts to about 30 mph (higher S/E counties).

- Meteorologist Al Conklin

Wednesday, Sept. 12 10 a.m. Update:

At 10:30 a.m., CMPD, Charlotte Fire, and Medic officials held a press conference regarding the city’s preparations ahead of the storm.

“Our departments are quick and we are agile,” Medic officials said.

Still, the public is urged to be prepared to “sustain yourself for at least three days,” according to Chief Putney.

Shelters are being set up at several high schools across Mecklenburg County. The locations are East Mecklenburg HS, South Mecklenburg HS, North Mecklenburg HS, Olympic HS, and Audrey Kell HS.

CHARLOTTE PREPARES FOR FLORENCE: CMPD, Charlotte Fire and Medic are discussing the city's preparations ahead of Hurricane Florence. MORE » https://bit.ly/2CN3VNx

Posted by WBTV News on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Shortly before the Charlotte press conference, NC Governor Cooper gave a press briefing at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"North Carolina, my message is clear - disaster is at the dooorstep and it's coming in," Cooper said. "If you're on the coast, you still have time to get out safely."

The governor said residents should prepare to be without power for several days.

TRACKING FLORENCE: NC Gov. Roy Cooper is giving an update on preparations and conditions ahead of the storm. More » https://bit.ly/2QoVCKb

Posted by WBTV News on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday, September 12 5 a.m.

Wednesday morning Florence remains a major category 4 hurricane, and a very dangerous storm. If you are tracking Florence at home, the current center of the storm is located at 28.5 N 69.5 W. Florence is moving to the West Northwest at 17 mph. Maximum sustained winds are being put at 140 mph.

Hurricane warnings are now up for the entire North Carolina coast and portions of the South Carolina coastline. Millions of people are being evacuated in an effort to get them out of harm’s way.

The 5 a.m. update from the NHC has brought another southern shift to the track… and a major update to the track once Florence makes landfall and begins to slowly move inland.

The official storm track now takes Florence south of Wilmington, with a possible landfall around Southport, NC. Florence is then expected to track south towards the Myrtle Beach area. After making landfall Florence will stall out and move very slowly to the west/northwest.

The current track puts Charlotte and the WBTV viewing area to the north of the center of circulation of what by Saturday will be a strong but decaying storm. But this position also puts us in the path for torrential rains and possible small tornadoes. Needless to say, after landfall this becomes a very tricky forecast.

We’ll keep you updated with the very latest information as we analyze forecast updates as they come into the First Alert Weather Center.

Tuesday September 11 5 p.m.

Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a category 4 as it continues to approach the Carolinas. The path of the storm has also appeared to shift more towards the west splitting the WBTV viewing area in half. A hurricane warning has been issued for those on the coast in both North and South Carolina.

The latest update on Florence from the NHC has the storm making landfall Friday afternoon. Yes, it has slowed down a little. The good news is that it may weaken a little too. It will still be a very dangerous hurricane, but it will hopefully weaken to a strong category 3 just before making landfall. Again, it is still a very dangerous storm. …This is the part most models agree on.

The part the models don’t agree on is the part that most affects us in the WBTV viewing area. The official forecast from the NHC has the storm slowly inching to the west and dumping lots of rain on eastern NC and even part of the WBTV viewing area. As of now, our biggest concern is for heavy (possibly flooding) rain and gusty winds.

Here’s the problem. The models aren’t agreeing on the track of the storm after making landfall. The GFS is taking the storm slowly toward the west. That model would mean the possibility of rain for us Friday and into the weekend. It would also mean gusty winds. Then there is the European model… It is taking the storm close to the NC coast on Friday afternoon. From there, it is steering the storm to the south – possibly just off shore, where it can remain a strong storm and affect the SC coast.

Obviously, these are two totally different outcomes. That means there’s no way to tell exactly what we will get or not get here. For now, it is best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Make the preparations you would if the storm were coming right through here. Hopefully they won’t be needed. If you’re still eating your non-perishable foods two weeks from now, it could be worse, right?

Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches are in effect through the end of the week for the entire coastline along both North and South Carolina. The watches were issued Tuesday morning from Edisto Beach, SC, to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

The National Hurricane Center says a life-threatening storm surge is likely along the coast, as well as life-threatening flooding.

As of 5 a.m., the eye of Florence was located about 1,000 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach with max sustained winds of 140 mph.

Watches are issued 48 hours before the first expected occurrence of weather events, and as the storm nears shore, those watches will likely become warnings.

Florence is still a Category 4 hurricane and doesn’t appear to be losing any strength.

Tuesday, September 11 8 a.m.

As of 8 AM Tuesday morning, Florence remains a powerful category 4 - major - hurricane. Currently, Florence is 900 miles off the North Carolina coastline with a forward speed of 15 mph and is moving off to the West/North West.

The satellite view shows a cloud-shrouded center of circulation this morning, as Florence appears to be undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. This is very typical in a hurricane the size of Florence, and this cycle will intermittently cause the storm to weaken slightly (which it did overnight).

But Florence remains in a very conducive environment for further strengthening over the next two days. There two factors involved here. First, little or no wind shear. This means the winds in the upper levels are doing nothing to inhibit strengthening. Two, very warm sea surface temperatures - near 85°. Temperatures this warm are akin to a fire stoking a kettle of boiling water.

The National Hurricane Center official forecast takes Florence to near a Cat 5 hurricane over the next 24 to 36 hours, then Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere between Wilmington and Morehead City on the North Carolina coast sometime early Friday morning as a major, Category 4 hurricane.

Once Florence hits land, the storm will slow down greatly. This will mean a prolonged period of strong winds and flooding rains.

While Charlotte remains west of the main track, folks here across the WBTV viewing area should still prepare for the potential of torrential rains and strong winds (maybe gusts of 30-40 mph). We may begin feeling the effects by Thursday night, and with Florence slowing, it may be a very long and wet weekend here.

We will keep you updated with the very latest forecast data that we analyze in the First Alert Weather Center. On Air, On-Line and On the go!www.wbtv.com

Be prepared. Be Safe. Be ready.

- Al Conklin & Chris Larson

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