UPDATED DO 5 A. M. Map showing the likely path of Hurricane Florence. ; 1c x 2 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 63 mm;
WASHINGTON – Strangely enough, the poet of the Hurricane Florence gets to the country, the murkier the future.
Usually when a storm is approaching the coast, forecasters can tell with increasing accuracy who gets walloped. Not with Florence.
That is because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm disappear as Florence nears land around the border between North and South Carolina. The centre is to slow down and is expected to stall and maybe wander around, just off the coast on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. “We have simply never seen anything like this. … This is just a strange bird.”
Florence is becoming more and more a threat for more people, now including some in Georgia — in more ways. More stalls, the more it rains. The National Hurricane Center calls for 20-to 30-cm (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 cm). The more it depends just of the coast, the more potentially lethal storm surge it can be busy on the shore.
“For a meandering storm, the biggest concern — as we saw with Harvey — is the large amount of precipitation,” said Chris Landsea, chief of the tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center.
The big storm has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane and forecasters expect top winds to drop more as it nears the coast, but they share a massive dose of uncertainty.
“It’s definitely a challenge forecasting the precise effects, when the exact track will not be known until the day before,” Landsea said There is “a huge difference” in the size and type of damage Florence is doing if it continues to 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the coast versus heading inland immediately.
The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be on Thursday or Friday, as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.
“It’s the coming roaring up to the coast Thursday evening and say: ‘I’m not sure I really want to do this and I take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go in the country,” says Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground.
Send currents around the clear weather and high pressure systems and stormy low pressure systems — redirect hurricanes, with the clear-weather systems acting as walls that storms have to go around. Projections show that currents of Florence no sense of direction in a day or so.
Masters said, there is a tug-of-war between two clear air of high pressure components and systems — one from the coast and one about Michigan. The lake of the Great Lakes wins, the more southern of Florence.
Computer simulations — in particular the often star-run of the European model — push the storm further to the south, even in South Carolina and Georgia. The hurricane center also adjusted its projected track, but kept to the north of what most computer models show, for some continuity with previous forecasts.
Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weathermodels.com in an e-mail called the overnight European computer simulation “is a different model run for the ages. So many weird/strange solutions — but that is what happens when the steering currents collapse.”
The European computer model has Florence a rose for the landing and float for a few days from the coast.
If the European model is true or the general trend continues, the University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said: ‘this is extremely bad news, such as the sweeping of a land in sight out over hundreds of miles of the coast, particularly the storm surge. The rainfall is and continues to be a major threat of the whole area.”
And if Florence were not enough, other storms that threaten people. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and the Tropical Storm Isaac is approaching the Leeward Islands. Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Joyce were out in the Atlantic ocean and poses no threat.
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears . His work can be found here .
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