Hurricane Florence track a concern for East Coast residents

- As of early Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence remained a strong category 3 storm with winds over 100 mph. At one point the storm gained category 4  status making it the first major hurricane in the Atlantic for the season. Florence remains on a westward course over the central Atlantic and is expected to fluctuate in intensity over the next several days.

The storm so far has defied weather guidance several times to date by rapidly intensifying well beyond what was forecasted. Dynamic models that assess and project the intensity of tropical system have failed several times showing the poor atmospheric conditions surrounding the system has done little to halt the storm's development.

A CONCERN FOR THE UNITED STATES

There is growing consensus in our modeling that suggest Florence may make it to the United States by the end of next week. A potential strike on the US mainland and Bermuda has shown up on several model runs of the most skilled GFS and European forecast guidance. At this point, the guidance shows a hit between Cape Cod and North Carolina which tells us there are still plenty of scenarios on the table between now and next Wednesday

FLORENCE'S FIRST TEST TO TURN NORTH IS THIS SUNDAY!

The first big test to see how far Florence is able to make it west will come Sunday when a small window of weakness will open to guide the system north and eventually out-to-sea. This "window" is either enough to give it the turn away from the US or not strong enough to force it out. These windows open up when there is a gap between an area of sinking air (high pressure) and a trough or low-pressure center (rising air). 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Should the worst case scenario happen (and it's very possible given forecast trends to date) then there is not much preventing Florence from getting close to the east coast or even hitting Bermuda by early next week. Once the window to turn Florence out to sea closes a strong tropical ridge will build over the system forcing it to maintain it's west heading. A setup like this, while rare, has been seen in the past especially in the 1930s (before hurricanes were named). Furthermore, storms like Gladys of 1964 which took a similar path were never able to reach shore due to the high volatility of the environment over the northeast\midatlantic. Climatology argues against a landfalling hurricane coming onshore this far north in the Atlantic region. Storms usually stay closer to the tropical islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba and move up the coast but then again Florence has been anything but normal to date.

 

Follow Mike Masco for real-time storm updates

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