North Carolina

How big is Hurricane Florence, and answers to other questions

“Where?” and “When?” continue to be the most asked questions about Hurricane Florence, and the National Hurricane Center can’t yet answer either.

But here are some answers the experts have supplied in tweets and storm update reports:

How big is Hurricane Florence? The area of tropical storm force winds generated by the storm was 300 miles wide as of Wednesday, according to a tweet from the National Hurricane Center. Some meteorologists in the country are reporting the storm is more than 500 miles wide. Why the difference? The National Hurricane Center measures only the area where tropical storm force winds are felt, not the actually width of the cloud formation.

How big are the waves inside the hurricane? Within the storm, the waves are now 83 feet, says the National Hurricane Center. “These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction the storm’s motion,” says the National Hurricane Center. That’s about the height of an 8-story building. The waves would not be that height when it reaches the coast, as waves get smaller in shallower water.

How big is the area covered by Storm Surge Watches and Warnings? A 450-mile stretch along of coastline, says the National Hurricane Center.

How big is the area that can expect some kind of rain? More than 5 inches of rain is expected along a 570 mile-long stretch of the eastern United States, including periods of “heavy and long-lasting rainfall,” says the National Hurricane Center.

Is it true we could see feet of rain? Eastern North Carolina’s central counties (between Wilmington and Cape Hatteras) are predicted to get 20 to 30 inches of rain, and some isolated areas could see 40 inches. Parts of South Carolina could see 5 to 10 inches, with isolated areas getting 20 inches, said the center. The amount of rain expected has been growing daily since Monday, says the National Hurricane Center.

When will we feel those first gusts of wind? The “earliest reasonable time” that tropical-storm-force winds could arrive in the Carolinas is late Wednesday, and the most likely time is Thursday morning, said the National Hurricane Center.

How high are the winds? As of Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center is reporting sustained winds near 125 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph and higher) are extending 70 miles out from the center and tropical-storm-force winds (39 to 73 mph) are being felt 175 miles out. The wind gusts (combined with rain-soaked soil) are expected to bring trees down on power lines, cutting electricity to large areas, says the National Hurricane Center.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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