Environmental: Hurricane Florence is the first major hurricane of the 2018 hurricane season to hit the United States. Florence is approximately 145 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and is expected to make landfall around midday on 14 September. Florence is moving northwest at 12mph and has a sustained wind speed of 110mph. Florence has been downgraded from a category three hurricane to a category two, however, it is not expected to weaken further before it makes landfall. At least 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, while a further 5.25 million people are under a hurricane warning.
There is a significant risk of storm surges across the regions, with surges up to 13 foot predicted between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout in North Carolina. Meteorologists believe Hurricane Florence will stall when it reaches the US east coast due to changing conditions. After travelling more than 350 miles each day this week, the storm is anticipated to move just 75 or 85 miles on 14 September. This has made predicting the hurricane’s course problematic and in turn has made forecasting unreliable, with multiple conflicting reports being distributed. Authorities are concerned that some residents will believe their property is safe to return to yet may still be in danger of further flooding.
Although Florence is not the most powerful storm to hit the region, meteorologists fear the storm is likely to stall along the south-eastern coast of United States when it makes landfall on 14 September. If Hurricane Florence does stall, it will result in a greatly increased concentration of rainfall and almost certainly result in a major flooding event. North and South Carolina may experience at least 30 inches of rain when Florence makes landfall, but that could reach 40 inches in some areas. Energy companies have warned that power disruption is highly likely in many areas affected by the storm and up to 759,000 homes and businesses are highly likely to sustain damage. In a similar storm event, Hurricane Harvey stalled as it approached Houston in 2017, resulting in a significant increase in damage. Harvey killed 88 people and displaced more than 30,000.