FLORENCE making landfall

Friday 14th September 2018

Another busy and fast-moving day across the reporting region. As events, particularly in respect of FLORENCE, are changing by the minute, any summary will almost certainly be superceded the moment I hit send so I'll leave that storm until last. The rest, from west to east -

It seems Disturbance Thirty Six failed to hit the development sweet spot and is unlikely to do much more than produce localised heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity over southern coastal Texas over the coming weekend. In the westernmost offshore leases, gusts in squalls may reach 50 knots in places, with some heavy seas. Currently centred 50 miles east-nor'east of Brownsville, headed north-west at 12 knots, this should make a fairly unremarkable but very wet landfall midway between Corpus Christi and Brownville in around 5 hours from now.

The nominal centre of ISAAC passed between Dominica and Guadeloupe last night. ISAAC had battled upper level wind shear on final approach to the islands losing tropical storm intensity as it did so, much to the relief of all. This has now been downgraded to a tropical depression which will continue to weaken weakening as it tracks across the Caribbean and may have had its day.

The first of the two fish storms to the north, tropical storm JOYCE is now around 1,000 miles south-west of the Azores. JOYCE is wandering aimlessly but in a generally south-westerly direction but is expected to wise up and head north-east in the next 24 – 36 hours, accelerate, weaken and dissipate before reaching the Azores.

The more powerful of the two, Tropical Storm HELENE is now 650 miles southwest of the Azores with sustained winds of around 60 knots. HELENE has already started on the well-worn path to the north-east and is expected to bring heavy squalls and gales to the Azores over the weekend before continuing into the north-east and breaking up.

New Disturbance Thirty Nine is passing the Cape Verde Islands now, westbound at 8 knots. This is showing no interest in development as yet. Early days.

Finally, FLORENCE. The leading edge of the eye of Hurricane FLORENCE crossed the beach midway between Wilmington and Jacksonville around Surf City about two hours ago. As the storm is now at little more than walking pace and likely to track along the coast for a few hours, identifying a landfall will be relatively meaningless. A reconnaissance craft and offshore buoys have measured wind gusts of over 100 knots, with sustained winds of 75-80 knots, however at this stage, wind speed is almost irrelevant. As the eyewall spreads along the coast, destructive tidal surges and heavy rainfall are the order of the day. A United States Coast Guard bulletin issued in the last few minutes has recorded a height of 6.1 feet above normal at Emerald Isle and a rescue operation is already taking place in New Bern. It is hard to think beyond current events with their inevitable human cost but with a view on forward track, there is little change to the forecast post-landfall. A very slow southwest motion is expected which will keep FLORENCE very near to the coast causing catastrophic flooding in eastern North Carolina and north-eastern South Carolina. In addition, some areas may see up to 40 inches of rainfall. By tomorrow, FLORENCE should, it is hoped, to turn to the west and then north-west and accelerate to take the storm into South Carolina and eventually into the Appalachian Mountains. Once deep inland late on Saturday, weakening should occur at a rapid rate and hopefully weaken to below tropical storm force early on Sunday morning.

Stand by for catastrophic storm surge, torrential rainfall and destructive winds across the coast of north Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.