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Hurricane Florence recovery complicated by high tides, localized flooding

( Photo: North Carolina National Guard )

Cleaning up from Hurricane Florence’s wrath may not be easy this week, mainly because of the moon’s gravitational pull. High tides will combine with the flood wave coming downstream to create more flooding on the lower Cape Fear River for the next several days.

The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington has issued a Coastal Flood Warning, in effect until 2 a.m. EDT on Thursday, September 27. However, Warnings Coordination Meteorologist Steve Pfaff tells FreightWaves the Warning will be extended past Thursday if necessary. The main area of interest is downtown Wilmington and portions of River Road southwest of the city.

On Monday North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said the state’s work on Hurricane Florence is changing focus. “Florence is gone, but the storm’s devastation is still with us,” Cooper said. “As we’re shifting from emergency response to full-time recovery from the storm, please remain careful in hard-hit areas and please, please stay away from flooded roads.”

However, The North Carolina Department of Public Safety, which includes the state’s Emergency Management office, tells FreightWaves that crews are aware of the potential for more flooding and that it might slow down recovery operations at times.

Forecasters at NWS-Wilmington say the highest water level should occur during high tides. Water levels should remain well above flood stage for at least a couple of hours surrounding each high tide. Late Tuesday morning the stage was at moderate flood level at 6.61 feet. Flood stage is 5.5 feet.

They say to expect up to 1.5 feet of water on Water Street in downtown Wilmington south of Market Street. U.S. 421 northbound near the Battleship could begin to see water covering the road. Roads in and near the State Port could be affected, and Low spots on River Road and Highway 133 may be affected or become briefly covered with water around high tide.

Also, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a 40%-60% chance of tropical cyclone development off the North Carolina coast this week.

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.