FIRST ALERT: Florence gaining strength, forecast track still highlighting Carolina landfall

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    MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Hurricane Florence continues to gradually better organized and forecast to reach Category 4 strength by Wednesday as it approaches the Carolina coast. We also have two other hurricanes in the Eastern Atlantic, Helene and Issac.

    FLORENCE FORECAST

    As of the 5:00 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is now a Category 2 storm located 1,300 miles from the Grand Strand.

    Florence is moving toward the west northwest at 9 mph. On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern coast of the United States Thursday. Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane later today, and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major category 4 hurricane through Thursday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles . Florence is forecast to become larger over the next few days.

    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. While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location, and magnitude of these impacts, interests at the coast and inland from South Carolina into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials.

    FLORENCE SCENARIOS AND PROBABILITIES:

    1. SCENARIO 1. Landfall near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This would be the best case scenario for the Grand Strand and Pee Dee. Impacts would include some gusty winds, rain bands and very rough surf, but widespread damage would be confined to areas further north up the coast. Based on the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center and the latest data from today’s forecast models, the probability of this scenario is 20%.

    2. SCENARIO 2. Landfall just north of the North Carolina, South Carolina Border. This scenario would likely deliver damaging winds, heavy rain and some storm surge to much of the area. Downed trees and powerlines along with areas of flooding would be likely. However, the most severe impacts including destructive winds and storm surge would be focused just north of the region. Based on the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center and the latest data from today’s forecast models, the probability of this scenario is 60%.

    3. SCENARIO 3. Landfall over or just south of the Grand Strand. This scenario would deliver a devastating blow to the entire region with widespread destructive winds and and storm surge. This track would place Florence in the same category as Hugo and Hazel – the two most destructive storms in the region’s modern history. Based on the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center and the latest data from today’s forecast models, the probability of this scenario is 20%. While that number may seem low, consider this – if you were told you had a 20% chance of being in a serious car accident on Thursday, you would take every precaution possible to avoid that. Use the same mindset as you prepare for Hurricane Florence.

    Each new advisory from the National Hurricane Center and each new forecast model, will gradually help to improve the landfall location and potential impacts to be expected locally.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO

    Continue to work on your personal hurricane plan. Make sure your hurricane kit is up to date and restock any needed supplies. If you live in an evacuation zone, familiarize yourself with the zones and evacuation routes and where you may go if told to leave.

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