September 3, 2019

Hurricane Conditions Possible In The Carolinas As Dorian Scrapes The Coast On Thursday



Hurricane conditions are possible between Savannah and Cape Hatteras on Thursday and Friday as Hurricane Dorian begins its long-anticipated track toward the north. Over the next couple of days, the hurricane could produce a life-threatening storm surge along the coast, as well as damaging winds and the potential for flash flooding from torrential rainfall.

Squally Night In Florida

Weather radar for central Florida at 9:22 PM EDT on September 3, 2019. | GREarth/AllisonHouse
While all the focus is on the Carolinas at the moment, we can't forget about poor Florida. The storm-stressed state is feeling the effects of the storm they prepared for a week ago. Thankfully, it's nowhere near as bad as it could have been, but strong winds and coastal flooding are still a serious deal if you're caught in the wrong place.

The core of Hurricane Dorian isn't far off of Cape Canaveral this evening. We've seen multiple reports of sustained tropical storm force winds on Florida's east coast today, and conditions will continue to deteriorate farther up the coast through Georgia (and improve farther down the coast in FLorida) as the storm continues lifting north on Wednesday.

Current Forecast

Dorian remains a strong hurricane on Tuesday evening with maximum sustained winds of 110 MPH. Don't focus on the fact that the maximum winds have come down since the storm's peak the other day. This hurricane has a large wind field and wind gusts of just 60 MPH are enough to bring down trees, create flying debris, and lead to widespread power outages. (Why is it that people will panic over a severe thunderstorm with 60 MPH wind gusts, but then shrug their shoulders at tropical cyclones with sustained winds much stronger?)

The National Hurricane Center's forecast track hasn't changed much over the last day or so. The core of hurricane force winds will come very close to the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts throughout the day on Thursday, with the center of the storm potentially making landfall in northeastern SC or eastern NC on Thursday afternoon or evening. These areas stand the greatest risk of seeing a life-threatening storm surge, wind damage, power outages, and the heaviest rainfall totals.

The hurricane will finally clear land on Friday and head toward Atlantic Canada this weekend. Folks in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland need to keep a close watch on the hurricane and its remnants on Saturday (NS) and Sunday (NL). Even though the storm will likely lose its tropical characteristics as it races through the northwestern Atlantic, the storm's wind field will grow larger and many populated areas in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland could see a period of damaging winds, flooding rain, and coastal flooding this weekend.

Impacts



FLOODING RAINS: Flash flooding from heavy rain is possible as Dorian swings through the region over the next couple of days. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence last year, you don't really have to warn folks in this part of the country about the danger of flash flooding from tropical cyclones.

A swath of 5-7 inches of rain is possible along the South Carolina coast and eastern parts of North Carolina, with lower—but not insignificant—totals possible inland. Heavy, persistent rain could lead to flash flooding in vulnerable areas. I know "turn around, don't drown" sounds kinda hokey, but most fatalities in tropical cyclones are the result of drowning in freshwater flooding and it's very easy for a driver to misjudge water depth and get swept away by a small amount of moving water.



DAMAGING WINDS: Strong winds could lead to downed trees and power outages along and near the coast. The stretch of coastline between Charleston, South Carolina, and the NC/VA state line faces the greatest risk for damaging winds from this storm. Some areas could experience a period of sustained hurricane force winds if the core of the storm comes close to land or makes landfall.

The above map shows where tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings are in effect. These alerts don't stop at the coast—in some cases, like in eastern North Carolina, they can extend far inland. Areas in a hurricane warning could see hurricane force winds as the storm passes by.

LIFE-THREATENING STORM SURGE: Those damaging winds could generate a storm surge along the coast. The deepest surge is possible where strong, persistent winds press against shallow waters along a curved or marshy coastline.

A storm surge of 4 to 7 feet above normal tide levels is possible between the Savannah River in Georgia and Cape Lookout, North Carolina. That would be a life-threatening surge of seawater flooding for homes, businesses, and roadways along the coast. Slightly lower surge levels are possible to the north and south of these areas, but any storm surge is dangerous if you're caught in a flooded building or if you drive into a flooded roadway.

TORNADOES: The Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk for severe weather for counties near the southeast coast on Wednesday and Thursday. There's a small risk for tornadoes in some of Dorian's outer bands. Tropical tornadoes can happen quickly and radar can miss them. Keep an eye out and act quickly if you find yourself in a tornado warning.

Conditions Improving In The Bahamas

A visible satellite loop of Hurricane Dorian on September 3, 2019. | College of DuPage


Hurricane Dorian finally pulled away from Grand Bahama on Tuesday morning after producing hurricane force winds over the island for 36 hours, likely one of the most intense single weather events in recorded history. Aerial footage from Marsh Harbour on neighboring Great Abaco, the first island hit by Dorian's category five winds, showed a devastating storm surge in low-lying areas and catastrophic damage in poor communities where homes weren't build to withstand such intense forces. We'll likely see similar heartbreaking images from parts of Grand Bahama once the weather clears enough for search and rescue teams to reach the island.


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Thank You for not ignoring the existence of Canada in your reporting.

    ReplyDelete