Hurricane Florence is the storm everyone’s talking about – and for good reason. The storm is expected to double the amount of rain ever seen with an East Coast hurricane.
The Philadelphia region has already been battered by record-breaking heat, torrential downpours, and surprisingly cool temperatures in the last few weeks alone, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that Mother Nature would add a hurricane to the mix.
Although Hurricane Florence, an intensifying storm that became a category 4 on Monday, first will touch the mainland along the Carolinas, its effects will rapidly be felt miles away.
Some forecasters described it as a “monster” that is predicted to possibly dump 48 inches of rain on the U.S. — twice the previous record for an East Coast hurricane.
“Florence bears watching for the Atlantic coast, and not just where it makes landfall,” the National Weather Service Mt. Holly office tweeted. “Impacts will be felt up the coast.”
Tropical storm-level winds could also be felt in Delmarva and South Jersey.
Florence grew from a Category 2 to Category 4 in just a few hours over the weekend, forecasters say. As of Monday, it was spinning at well over 100 miles per hour, and was feared to potentially cause catastrophic damage as it touched the mainland.
“Data from a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Hurricane Hunter indicate that Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen and has maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (195 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (27.93 inches),” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) tweeted.
Still hundreds of miles from the Eastern seaboard, the storm was expected to touch down along the coast of the Carolinas around 8 p.m. on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 12 or the following morning. Its effects are expected to reach the Philadelphia region within the following 24 hours later.
Will Hurricane Florence hit Philly?
NOAA forecasters say that with current conditions, there’s just a five to 10 percent chance that the Philadelphia region will see higher than 40 mile-per-hour winds. But that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern. The storm could still lead to higher rainfall, more precipitation, flooding along coastal and flood-prone areas, and with Philadelphia’s aged infrastructure for city plumbing, could potentially send rainwaters rushing through some city streets.
After excruciating early-September heat, the weekend brought record cool temperatures to the region. Sept. 9’s high of 61 degrees in Philadelphia was a record coolest high, the National Weather Service said.
“Unfortunately, warm and humid conditions will return and persist through much of this week,” the National Weather Service said. Temperatures in the low 80s and upper 70s plus rain and thunderstorms are forecast every day through the rest of the week, with storms easing off by Friday and leading into a cloudy weekend in the mid-70s.
It’s too early to know if Hurricane Florence will hit Philly, meterologists say. A growing high-pressure system in the northeast may push Florence south and prevent it from getting too close to Philadelphia. But its heavy rainfall could still influence the area.
Category 4 storms have sustained wind speeds of 130-156 miles per hour. Forecasters with ABC said this storm has the potential to reach Category 5 before it touches down on the Eastern Seaboard.
“There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland,” the NHC said. “Large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast will continue this week. These swells will result in life-threatening surf and rip currents.”