(KMSP) - Today marks the peak of hurricane season, and it is definitely living up to it.
The mainland United States, Hawaii, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could all be impacted by tropical systems within days of each other—something that has never happened before. It all comes one year after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida.
While Guam is getting hit now with Typhoon Mangkhut and Hawaii is likely to get Tropical Storm Olivia tomorrow night, lets focus on the Atlantic, where three hurricanes have lined up.
One off the coast of Africa named Helene which is not a threat to land as of yet. Then there’s Isaac, which became a hurricane late last night. It is heading toward Lesser Antilles, the U.S. Virgin islands and potentially Puerto Rico. However, a lot can change between now and a potential landfall, which could be near the end of the week.
But, our eyes on the mainland will likely be focused on Florence, which is rapidly strengthening now at a major Category 4 hurricane and getting stronger.
The big difference with Florence is that we are in nearly uncharted waters. The area of the Atlantic Florence is in is well known for having tropical systems but not for having a U.S. landfall. Of the 37 the area has seen since the mid-1800s, only two have made landfall in the U.S. since traveling over that location in the Atlantic. The first was in 1901 that hit south Florida, and the second in 1933 that hit North Carolina and Virginia. Florence though takes aim at just about every place in between.
With very little left ahead of it to push it in a different direction, a U.S. landfall now looks likely somewhere between northern Florida and North Carolina on Thursday when Florence could be a strong Category 4 storm. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast shows the Carolinas as the likely target, but this can certainly change.
Preparations are already underway. A state of emergency has been issued for the Carolinas and Virginia as winds could thrash the coast and two feet of rain could flood many locations inland. The governor of South Carolina was the first to issue a state of emergency on Saturday.
Evacuation orders are starting today for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and other areas are likely to follow suit.
If Florence makes landfall at the current forecast, it would be the strongest hurricane that has made landfall ever recorded in the Carolinas.