Hurricane Florence Update September 13 2018: What to Expect

Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm — it was once a powerful Category 4 hurricane — but that relatively good news is of little solace to residents and businesses along the coastal areas of North Carolina and South Carolina who are preparing for its impending landfall near anywhere from Cape Lookout to Cape Fear as early as late tonight, Thursday, September 13, 2018.

Hurricane Florence Update September 13 2018: What to Expect

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence heads west northwest in the Atlantic Ocean towards the United States. The states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are outlined in purple. Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of this storm — which is currently centered approximately 100 miles east southeast of Wilmington in North Carolina and is moving west northwest at approximately five miles per hour — are 100 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 120 miles per hour. The eye is not as well defined as it was during its phase as a Category 4 hurricane…

…but that does not mean that this hurricane will not cause damage and possible loss of life. Historic amounts of precipitation — to the tune of as much as 40 inches of rain — are possible in some areas; and damaging wind, isolated tornadoes, coastal beach erosion, dangerous surf, strong rip currents, and a devastating storm surge of greater than ten feet are likely in many areas along the coast. Downed trees and power lines are a certainty as a result. The primary reason for the significance of the effects to be felt from Hurricane Florence is its slow forward motion — meaning that it has more time to cause more damage as it passes over land.

Hurricane Florence

Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the entire coastline of North Carolina and approximately the northern half of the coastline of South Carolina. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the southern coastline of Virginia and much of the southern half of the coastline of South Carolina.

Southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina are expected to bear the most powerful brunt of Hurricane Florence — yes, that does include the city of Florence in South Carolina — with eastern Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee; most of Virginia and West Virginia; southern Maryland; the District of Columbia; and remaining portions of North Carolina and South Carolina experiencing effects of the storm in the form of gusty winds and significant precipitation.

Cities included in the aforementioned areas are Wilmington, Charlotte, Johnson City, Spartanburg, Roanoke, Florence, Raleigh, Columbia, Savannah, Greenville, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Durham, Asheville, Hilton Head, Norfolk, and Charleston in both South Carolina and West Virginia.

Although the coast of North Carolina is already experiencing the first of the outer bands emanating from Hurricane Florence, effects will also be felt in this Bermuda Triangle of sorts: for example, dangerous surf conditions are expected from Nova Scotia to the coast of central Florida to Bermuda.

Meanwhile, almost two million people heeded the official warnings and evacuated inland. States of emergency have already been declared in Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Schools and government buildings will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 14, 2018 in many areas. A significant number of fuel stations are out of gasoline. Expect dining options to be limited as well: as one of many examples, Red Lobster has issued this alert pertaining to Hurricane Florence:

As hurricanes approach our East Coast, our thoughts are with all of those in the storm’s path. Our guests, our team members and the communities in which we operate are part of the Red Lobster family, and we hope everyone stays safe. Due to weather, our restaurant operating hours may vary. We appreciate your patience as we weather the storm.

You can check the latest status of affected restaurants HERE

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to the eastern United States over the next week or so, expect delays and cancellations of flights — even if your destination is not going to be directly affected by Hurricane Florence. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions and traffic problems.

Here are twelve airlines which have issued travel alerts — or are at least monitoring the storm — as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for 23 airports in four states for Monday, September 10, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Friday, September 21, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for 19 airports in four states for Tuesday, September 11, 2018 through Monday, September 17, 2018; and Friday, September 21, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for 16 airports in four states for Monday, September 10, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Thursday, September 20, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Alaska Airlines has issued travel alerts for Charleston and Raleigh-Durham for Monday, September 10, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Monday, October 1, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for eleven airports in five states for Monday, September 10, 2018 through Monday, September 17, 2018; and Monday, October 1, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for five airports in four states for Tuesday, September 11, 2018 through Monday, September 17, 2018; and Friday, September 21, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Frontier Airlines has issued travel alerts for seven airports in four states for Monday, September 10, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Monday, October 1, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued travel alerts for four airports in three states for Wednesday, September 12, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Wednesday, September 26, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued a travel alert for Savannah for Thursday, September 13, 2018; and Sunday, September 23, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • WestJet Airways has issued a travel alert for Myrtle Beach for Friday, September 14, 2018.
  • Aeromexico has issued travel alerts for 16 airports in four states for Tuesday, September 11, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018; and Thursday, September 20, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued travel alerts for 19 airports in four states for Tuesday, September 11, 2018 through Monday, September 17, 2018; and Friday, September 21, 2018 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

I originally forewarned in this article that “More accurate information pertaining to the results of the impact of this dangerous storm — and, more precisely, where — will emerge within the next 48 hours, as forecasts are too early to be accurate at the time this article was written.” A fine line exists between ensuring that people are properly prepared for the onslaught of a tropical system such as Hurricane Florence and causing unnecessary panic. At that time, the forecasts for this storm called for landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, with at least one prognostication that it would strengthen to a Category 5 hurricane. Thankfully, those scenarios are unlikely at this point.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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