Heavy rain, strong winds ahead for Upstate as Hurricane Florence makes landfall

Hurricane Florence, viewed from space on the morning of Sept. 13 as its rain bands began to affect the Carolinas and the Virginia coast. Photo Credit: GOES/NOAA.

Everything you need to know about Hurricane Florence:

  • Hurricane Florence began as a tropical storm on Sept. 1 over the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. The storm peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph. It was downgraded to Category 2 on Wednesday night.
  • The storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. on Friday with estimated maximum winds of 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
  • More than 1.5 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas. South Carolina Govenor Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Georgetown and Horry counties.

Upstate residents can expect to feel the effects of Hurricane Florence in the coming days as the Category 2 storm slams into the Carolinas and moves inland, according to the National Weather Service. 

Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast on Friday morning and is expected to slowly crawl northward, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to Greenville and other parts of the region this weekend and into next week. 

The current forecast shows the center of the storm crossing southern Greenville County and Anderson County, and passing through Easley and across Pickens County into western North Carolina.

Bill Martin, science and operations officer with the National Weather Service at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, wrote in a Thursday afternoon forecast discussion that Hurricane Florence is expected to weaken to a tropical depression before entering the Upstate on Sunday. 

“The main impact is expected to be from excessive rainfall,” Martin wrote, adding that “uncertainties on the track of Florence as it moves inland remain, which affects the location of heaviest rainfall.”

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Greenville and other parts of the Upstate that will take effect on Saturday and last through Tuesday morning. Current projections show the region receiving up to 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence over the course of the next week. Greenville can expect to see 4 to 6 inches.

Jeffery Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, said increased precipitation could cause local waterways to flood.

The Reedy River, for instance, is known to swell during heavy rainfall events and flood areas throughout Greenville. That includes the Swamp Rabbit Trail and Cleveland Park, both of which sit in low lying areas along the banks of the river. The City of Greenville has created this interactive map to help residents determine whether their home or work is located in a flood plain.

Taylor said winds of more than 40 miles per hour could topple trees and lead to power outages across the Upstate as the soil becomes saturated from heavy rainfall. There could also be potential for tornadoes to develop before Hurricane Florence dissipates next Wednesday.

“These kinds of storms are pretty rare,” said Taylor. “There aren’t many systems to compare it to.”

Duke Energy, which provides power to about 4 million people across North and South Carolina, said in a news release that it expects anywhere from 1 million to 3 million customers to lose service. The utility company has stationed more than 10,000 workers in both states to restore power after the storm.

“Despite our work force, customers should continue to make plans for their homes and facilities,” Howard Fowler, Duke Energy’s incident commander, said in a statement. “It’s important for people to know this is no ordinary storm, and customers could be without power for a very long time – not days, but weeks.”

10 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane: 

Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.
  • Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters.
  • Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Plan on how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Keep your car in good working condition and keep the gas tank full. Stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
  • Turn on your television or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations. Plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

This is a developing story. This post will update as more information becomes available.



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