Rainfall and wind records are starting to fall as massive Tropical Storm Florence continues to impact the Carolinas in what feels like a never-ending catastrophe. Unfortunately, the catastrophe is expected to worsen. Tropical Storm Florence is meandering down the lower North Carolina coast at this time, with its center currently just west of Kure Beach. The National Weather Service says hourly rain totals near 3″ have been estimated by RADAR within its western eyewall, while amounts are coming up within its main inflow band, estimated at 2″ an hour presently. Official reports indicate that 14-15″ have fallen so far in 1.4 miles north of Swansboro, whose rain gage may have overflowed. In Oriental, NC, the National Weather Service said 20.37″ of rain fell already from Florence.
Nearly unfathomable amounts of rain continue to pour out of the sky into the Carolinas from Florence, adding to the catastrophe there. The previous rainfall record from a tropical cyclone in North Carolina was from Floyd in 1999, where 24.06″ fell on the state. In South Carolina, 1995’s Jerry dropped 18.51″ of rain, yet another record that Florence is expected to top.
The Associated Press reports the storm may dump 18 trillion gallons of rain on the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. “Florence’s 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay,” its article says here.
The American GFS forecast model suggests an additional 1.5-2.5 feet of rain will fall in the region, concurring with the AP assessment.
In Charlotte, typical September rainfall is about 3.24″. However, 12-13″ of rain is expected to fall in the city, drowning it with what could be a 1,000 year flood.
Rainfall isn’t the only record being broken in North Carolina. When the center came ashore near Wilmington, a record wind speed was measured there. Wind gusts at the Wilmington International Airport reached 105 mph in the eyewall of Hurricane Florence. According to the National Weather Service, this the highest wind gust measured since Hurricane Helene struck the Port City on September 27, 1958. Other tropical cyclones were also surpassed, including the 86mph recorded from Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the 74mph recorded from Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, and the 66mph measured from Hurricane Irene in 2011.