Florence is a nation’s second wettest storm, behind Harvey

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 file photo, water of Hurricane Florence surrounds homes in Dillon, S. C. Scientists say that climate change is likely enhanced precipitation totals for both Florence and 2017 is Harvey. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON – Hurricane Florence was the nation’s second rainy storm in 70 years, a top rainfall a meteorologist calculated.

Only last year, Hurricane Harvey, it’s raining more than 14,000 square metres (36,260 square kilometers of the area during a four-day period, said Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and North Carolina State University.

Scientists said climate change likely enhanced rainfall totals for both storms.

Kunkel the preliminary analysis found more than 17.5 cm (0.4 meters) fell, on average, about five weather stations in the 14,000 square miles of the eastern Carolina stretches from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Florence, South Carolina. The amount is Harvey’s 25.6 cm (0.6 metres).

“That is a lot of water,” Kunkel said.

The third most rainy storm was in March 2016 in the north of Louisiana, and the seventh was in the south of Louisiana in August 2016. The three most rainy, and four of the seven have all occurred in the past three years — that Kunkel said is no coincidence.

Kunkel, who specialises in the analysis of rain data from thousands of weather stations, the basis of his work on precipitation since 1949 when the recording was becoming widespread in the United States.

Kunkel studied the rain in a compact area — 14,000 square kilometers, a figure based on the latitude and longitude squares, and larger areas such as the 20,000, 30,000 and 80,000 square km. Florence is the unusual amount was most noticeable at the smallest scale.

When the scientist looked at a larger area, 20,000 square km, Florence fell to seventh place, behind Harvey, 1998 Hurricane Georges, the two Louisiana storms, 1962 northern California downpour and a 1994 Texas watering.

The analysis has not been published or peer reviewed yet, but will be, Kunkel said.

It is “not surprising, but still terrifying — that the two top ranked soakers has happened in the past two years,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who was not a part of Kunkel’s research, but praised. He said warmer oceans, more moisture and slower moving storms by different ways to the climate change storms dump more rain.


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears . His work can be found here .


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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