Hurricane Florence expected to strengthen as it heads to western Atlantic
Horry County will likely see tropical-storm and hurricane-force winds as Florence makes landfall over the Carolinas this week, said Steve Pfaff with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
In a news conference call Monday morning, Pfaff said Florence has parallels to Hugo, as well as Hurricane Fran.
“Please take this situation seriously,” Pfaff said. “The storm is really taking off, unfortunately, regarding its intensity.”
It’s still unclear what exact location Florence will hit Thursday and into Friday, but all folks in the Carolinas should be prepared, Pfaff said. Florence, which is expected to become a major hurricane today, will bring a storm surge somewhere along the coast, Pfaff said, it’s just unknown where will be impacted the most.
Hurricane Florence is now at a Category 4. It moved to a Category 3 on Monday morning and then to a 4 just an hour later.
“Nobody should let their guard down in the Carolinas no matter where you’re at,” Pfaff said Monday morning. “Who gets the highest storm surge is still a question mark.”
Pfaff said the Carolinas hasn’t been challenged by a storm like Florence since 1996 when Fran hit the coast as a Category 3.
Flooding impacts have moved from moderate risk to high. Impacts will be the highest in North Carolina, Pfaff said. North Carolina’s rainfall risk is something to be “watching closely” since the Grand Strand is located south, he said.. Pfaff said low river levels in the area have created a buffer, but more than 10 inches of rain could take away any buffer.
There’s a high rip current risk until 8 p.m. tonight in Horry and Georgetown counties, according to the National Weather Service. Life threatening rip currents are likely in the surf zone, which could see a three-foot surf today, the NWS reports.
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong