This enhanced satellite image provided by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Florence, upper left, in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm EDT. In the middle is the Tropical Storm Isaac and on the right is the Hurricane Helene. (NOAA via AP)
WASHINGTON – whip up a monstrous storm such as the chugging for the Carolina’s you will need a handful of ingredients — and Florence has them all.
Warmer than the normal temperature of the sea water to add energy and rain to a storm. Check.
A wind pattern that makes it a storm to get strong and stay strong. Check.
A higher sea level a storm surge worse. Check.
A storm cover huge area, to drench, and lash more people. Check.
And an unusual combination of other weather systems which are likely to stall Florence as it hits the Carolina’s, allowing it to sit for days and dump enormous amounts of rain. Check.
“The longer the stay, the more wind, the more rain. That means the more trees that fall, the more power outages,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
“This is really scaring me,” Graham said. “It’s one of those situations where you are going to get heavy rain, catastrophic, life-threatening storm surge and the wind.”
The National Hurricane Center Tuesday afternoon increased the precipitation forecast for 15 to 25 inches of rain and 35 inches in isolated spots. But a computer simulation known as the European model predicts some places could get 45 cm. Sound unlikely? It is the same model that accurately predicted last year’s Hurricane Harvey, who also stalled on land, would decrease by 60 inches.
“It seems a little similar to Harvey in a sense that it’s going to roar in the shore and then comes to a screeching stop,” said the MIT professor of meteorology and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel. “This is not a pretty sight.”
Florence is unusual in that it is aimed at the Carolina’s from the east. Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states of the south — and that usually curve safely out to sea.
But a back-formation known as a high-pressure ridge is parked over the east coast of the usa, prevent Florence from doing the normal turn, said the University of Miami, the hurricane expert Brian McNoldy.
After Florence makes landfall, that ridge, now on Washington and New York, then to the east — but can be replaced by other forms over the Great Lakes that will likely keep it in the storm, sit, McNoldy said.
Florence path remains uncertain. It can move a little to the north of Virginia, or a little to the south in South Carolina. But it is a large storm that the rain will continue to come down in the region, regardless of where it wanders. And with the Appalachian Mountains to the west, there can be floods and mudslides, experts worry.
Florence the large size, the tropical storm force winds extending 170 km from the centre in all directions — means his wrath will come, long before the center of the storm comes to shore, Graham said.
Some of Florence’s behaviour, both what has seen until now and what experts expect, show the influence of the climate change.
The expected slowness is becoming more common, a result of climate change, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist and hurricane expert Jim Kossin.
The water of the ocean that Florence is travelling over about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said. Even the normal water is warm enough for a storm to form, but this contributes to the storm of the fuel and the rainfall. The air is 10 percent more water that can be deposited, in the form of rain.
And the storm surge, which can be up to 12 metres in some areas, will be at the top of the sea-level rise due to climate change. For example, the seas off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina have risen 7.5 inches since 1935, according to NOAA.
Jennifer N. Kay contributed to this report from Miami.
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