*(Via Accuweather) – Hurricane Florence has made landfall and is on a path of destruction that will put millions of people at risk and threaten billions of dollars in damage.
Florence officially made landfall around 7:15 a.m. EDT near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, as the eye wobbled ashore.
Florence dipped to Category 2 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph on Wednesday evening. During Thursday evening, it became a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 90 mph.
The forward speed of Florence dropped from 17 mph on Wednesday to less than 5 mph during Thursday afternoon.
AccuWeather meteorologists believe that the hurricane will continue to meander slowly along the Carolina coast into Saturday. Wobbles, small loops and zigzags can occur. However, the rain and wind field around the storm will expand, power outages and damage reports will mount and flooding will increase.
As top wind speeds slowly come down, rainfall will ramp up and there is the potential for isolated tornadoes and waterspouts.
Despite the hurricane weakening somewhat since its peak as a Category 4, it has already grown substantially in overall size and its predicted deceleration in forward speed will take a costly toll.
For days, coastal areas will be bombarded with torrential rain, high winds, coastal erosion and storm surge, while inland areas will be poured upon. As the soil becomes saturated, gusty winds will topple trees and lead to widespread power outages.
“AccuWeather estimates that Hurricane Florence will cause $30-60 billion in economic impact and damage. To put this in context, we correctly predicted the full extent of Hurricane Harvey’s economic damage to be $190 billion last year. While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States’ fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million,” AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.
“For further context, we accurately estimated the total economic impact from Hurricane Irma would be $100 billion. Additionally, Florence’s projected toll is less than Hurricane Sandy’s toll of $69 billion and Katrina’s cost of $161 billion,” Myers said.
“Other sources are predicting a financial toll for Florence of up to $170 billion, and we think that is extreme when looking at Florence’s track and impacts to people and their lives. Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm Friday morning. Storms of this magnitude have struck the U.S. coastline in the past, in some cases causing $10 billion or less in total damage,” Myers said.
Read/learn MORE at Accuweather.