Here’s what Riskpulse expects as Hurricane Florence looms on the horizon

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Hurricane Florence has intensified over the last 24 hours and is beginning to ingest the warmer waters and atmospheric temperatures as it moves closer to the East Coast, Riskpulse’s Chief Meteorologist, Jon Davis, and its Senior Weather Analyst Mark Russo explained in a webinar on Tuesday. At the time of Riskpulse’s webinar, the center of Florence was 935 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, Riskpulse’s projected area of landfall.

“We’re looking at the overall anomaly of water temperatures in the Atlantic in relation to where Florence is. In Florence’s path, there here are unusually warm waters, upwards of 2-3 degrees Celsius above normal. It’s one of the reasons we anticipate the storm to strengthen in the next 36 hours as it approaches the coast,” Davis and Russo explained.

“Once the storm moves inland, virtually all of the guidance has Florence slowing down or stalling out in and around North Carolina. That’s always concerning from a flooding standpoint, and incredibly rare for storms hitting the mid-Atlantic. We’re very confident that severe flooding will be impacting the area. With the westward movement we anticipate once the storm moves inland, bigger cities in North Carolina can expect major flooding,” said Davis and Russo.

As the storm weakens from a wind standpoint, rain and flooding will become an area of concern.

Inland flooding could affect major markets in Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte due to the terrain and the longer duration of the rainfall.

“One of the biggest issues here, other than overall business operation disruption is disruption within transportation. Within the areas of likely highest impact, we’re dealing with major interstate corridors including I-40, I-95, I-74, I-85, I-77 and I-81 in the Carolinas and Virginia,” Riskpulse noted.

From an overall transportation standpoint, “we’re not only dealing with delays, but also on the hurricane’s impact on demand and capacity, factoring in delays for individual companies and their planned shipments and rerouting,” Davis and Russo stated.  

“We’re also dealing with agriculture and the impact of Hurricane Florence on crops like soybeans, cotton, corn, tobacco, livestock, and poultry, especially with this kind of storm,” said Davis and Russo. Research conducted by North Carolina State University, notes that agriculture accounts for a $76 billion addition to the state’s economy and 17% of all the jobs in North Carolina are related to agriculture. In recent years, North Carolina has ranked # 1 the production of flue-cured tobacco, # 2 in turkeys, hogs and pigs, and #4 in upland cotton, according to data from NC State.

In preparation for the storm, North Carolina’s governor Roy Cooper, has “also temporarily waived certain restrictions for trucks and heavy vehicles to help farmers harvest and move crops and livestock ahead of the storm and help utilities and other equipment be ready to respond if needed.”

“We put odds at 95% that Hurricane Florence will hit land as a major hurricane event. Some of the impacts of the freshwater flooding events are centered on North Carolina, branching into Virginia and South Carolina,” Davis and Russo concluded.  

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Maria Baker, Staff Writer

Maria is a staff writer who has covered everything from the environment to sign-on bonuses and women in the industry. She is a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, where she majored in English literature and minored in environmental studies. Maria loves writing about freight almost as much as she loves Emily Dickinson and the self-imposed challenge of finding the best iced mocha in Chattanooga.