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The latest on when and how Hurricane Florence impacts the Triangle

Satellite footage shows eye of Hurricane Florence moving closer to Carolinas

Satellite imagery shows the eye of Hurricane Florence as it moves toward the U.S. East Coast on the morning of Sept. 12, 2018. The center is located approximately 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with sustained winds at 130 mph.
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Satellite imagery shows the eye of Hurricane Florence as it moves toward the U.S. East Coast on the morning of Sept. 12, 2018. The center is located approximately 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with sustained winds at 130 mph.

(This story was updated at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13)

We’re checking in periodically with ABC11 meteorologists to learn what Triangle residents can expect from Hurricane Florence.

Keeping in mind that everything could change over the course of a few hours, as new models are delivered, here’s what we’ve learned. Below is an edited transcript of our talks with WTVD chief meteorologist Chris Hohmann, plus updates from his colleagues.

We talked to Hohmann Tuesday afternoon.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning: WTVD ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker gave us an update Wednesday morning. Details about wind strength and rain totals are below, but Schwenneker’s overall message was this: “I do not think much has changed with the change in direction and I would not be surprised to see some sort of shift again. Flooding is still a major concern with this storm.”

UPDATE, Wednesday evening: WTVD ABC11 meteorologist Brittany Bell provided our Wednesday evening update.

UPDATE, Thursday morning: Don Schwenneker tells us that despite downgrading of Hurricane Florence, not much has changed for the Triangle: “Though the intensity went down to a 2, the models are trending a bit more to the north. That means rainfall totals in the Triangle would be higher. That increases our flood threat. We now have a flash flood watch in effect from now until Saturday.”

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Latest rain predictions for Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Virginia. National Hurricane Center

When should we start feeling Florence in the Triangle?

Thursday night, Friday morning. Friday morning it’s right at the coast, if the forecast is accurate. In the Triangle, Friday morning we’ll start to see gusty winds. It could be 30 to 40 miles per hour.

And then as the hurricane moves inland it’s going to weaken rapidly in terms of the wind field, but we can still see the winds increasing before that. So generally through the day Friday the wind threat increases till at least sometime Saturday night, maybe Sunday.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning: Schwenneker says we can expect the wind to pick up Thursday evening and feel tropical storm force winds, 39-73 mph, by Friday.

UPDATE, Wednesday evening: Bell expects tropical-storm-force winds in the Triangle on Friday.

UPDATE, Thursday morning: Winds will pick up overnight and the heavier rain arrives Friday.

How bad will the wind be?

NC Governor Roy Cooper outlines preparations for Hurricane Florence during a press briefing Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018.

It’ll be a tropical depression by Sunday morning, so the wind threat will be over by then. It’s mainly a Friday, first part of Saturday type of window for wind threat. We could see gusts in the Triangle at 50 to 60 miles per hour at times.

If you get gusts from 50 to 60 miles per hour and it lasts for several hours, that could easily knock trees down and you get fairly widespread power outages. It’s not an extreme wind event for us, potentially, but it is certainly more than we’ve seen around here since Fran.

I think it’ll be higher southeast of the Triangle, when you get into Sampson County and Cumberland County. They could see gusts approaching potentially 100, but maybe a little shy of that.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning: Schwenneker says no changes in earlier predictions of wind strength here.

UPDATE, Wednesday evening: Bell says no major change in the predicted wind strengths here.

UPDATE, Thursday morning: Schwenneker says no changes.

NC Governor Roy Cooper tells North Carolinians on the coast to evacuate now in adavnce of Hurricane Florence during a Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 briefiing.

When do we get the rain?

There will be at least some light rain around Thursday night and Friday morning and then it’ll get heavier. We don’t know the rain shield until you get into radar range, so as it gets close to the coast, we’ll see just how wide the rain shield is. And it all depends on the track of the storm, of course.

How long will the rain last?

The damaging wind threat will be Friday into Saturday, but the rain could last well into the weekend and even early next week. This is based on the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. We’re trying to follow that and then sort of explain the other possibilities.

How much rain could we get?

Right now the potential in the Triangle is 10 to 15 inches, and that would cause problems — and it could be more if it shifts. It just depends on the model.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning: Schwenneker says we’re looking at 7 to 10 inches of rain in Raleigh through Tuesday.

UPDATE, Wednesday evening: Bell says the predictions have been lowered for parts of the Triangle, with 3-5 inches expected in the northern areas. But southern Wake County could get more, putting the overall Triangle prediction for rain in the 3 to 10 inch range. Flash flooding is still possible and the rain will stick around through the weekend.

UPDATE, Thursday morning: With the storm tracking a bit more to the north, Schwenneker says we could get a little more rain than last night’s prediction.

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WTVD / ABC11 chief meteorologist Chris Hohmann covering the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2017. WTVD ABC11

When is the hunker down time in the Triangle?

Schwenneker: Folks should be hunkered down by Friday morning.

Will this week’s rain make things worse?

What we’ve had so far … these scattered storms aren’t going to do a lot to the river basins. It could saturate the ground in spots, but it’s going to be so scattered I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue. It’s not going to make a ton of difference in the outcome. It’s not like we’ve had a lot of widespread heavy rain.

Could some areas of the Triangle feel it worse than others?

In terms of rainfall, you always think of places that are vulnerable like Crabtree Creek and the mall and Wake Forest Road. For wind damage, no. But for flooding, just the usual spots.

There could be places that don’t normally flood that flood this time. If it rains really hard in Raleigh, it’s gonna rain really hard in Durham most likely, so you’re not going to have isolated flash flooding type thing. And the flash flooding will subside quickly once the rain stops.

We do have to watch the area lakes. There have been hurricanes in the past where Falls Lake gets perilously close to topping the levee, and they have to release that water and they monitor it very carefully.

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