Meteorologist says hurricanes Florence and María are comparable
SAN JUAN – National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Ernesto Morales said Tuesday that Hurricane Florence will be catastrophic for the Carolinas and compared it with Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico almost one year ago.
“That region of North Carolina, South Carolina needs to be on alert for any fluctuations that can bring significant problems. (Florence) is quite big. As I always say, I don’t like to compare systems, but this can be compared to Maria with a small fluctuation in the trajectory. These strong systems like Florence, how Maria was, how Irma was, are easy to predict because there is a consensus among the models, it is a strong and defined system,” Morales said in a radio interview (WKAQ).
“What’s expected is something catastrophic for that region,” he warned.
He added that it is a very populated and tourist area. “It’s very vulnerable, it’s very low; it’s not mountainous. What’s in that region are basically sand dunes. There’s also that danger. That’s what’s most expected because the system is going a little slower and that generates more storm surge,” he added.
Press reports indicate that the evacuation of close to one million people in the area had been ordered since Monday.
“When they order you to leave, you have to leave because they are very exposed to danger, not just the wind but because they’re going to get what we got with María here. They’re also going to get a lot of rain because the system is moving quite slowly. The storm surge is especially the most concerning because that was what caused the most deaths during Katrina in New Orleans,” Morales said.
The National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. bulletin said Florence was located near latitude 26.4 North, longitude 64.6 West.
“Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 130 mph (215 km/h) with higher gusts. However, Florence is still a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Restrengthening is forecast to occur during the next day or so, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night,” the advisory reads.
It also details that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km). The minimum central pressure is 950 millibars (28.05 inches).
Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maxima to 30 inches near Florence’s track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia, and northern South Carolina through Saturday. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding. In addition, hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by late Thursday or Thursday night, with tropical storm conditions possible by Thursday morning.
The NHC maintains a storm surge watch from Edisto Beach South Carolina to the border between North Carolina and Virginia and for Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. In addition, there is a hurricane watch for that area.
A Puerto Rican resident of North Carolina spoke about her preparation was going and also compared Florence with Hurricane Maria. “It looks horrible. I’m thinking it will be like when María passed in Puerto Rico,” she said in a radio interview on the same station.
She said she lives an hour and a half from Wilmington, where the hurricane would come in. “It enters Wilmington but apparently the eye and everything will happen where I live,” said the woman who has lived in the state for more than 20 years.
“People here are acting crazy. I went yesterday (Monday) to buy supplies and there was no water left, there was no bread, there was nothing left. So I bought canned goods, I bought cereal, I bought the little gas stove. All the houses here are made of wood but mine has brick on the outside. We’re praying,” she added.
However, she said the area where she lives has not been evacuated, and said Fayetteville is the area where most Puerto Ricans reside.