Florence making landfall, Isaac downgraded but must still be watched

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Hurricane Florence has made landfall across North Carolina, very close to Topsail Beach and Wilmington. Winds approaching hurricane strength have been observed at both NOAA and private weather stations across the North Carolina coast. Gusts of 80-90 mph have also been reported. The main story, however, continues to be the water. The storm has slowed, which has led to a steady onslaught of onshore flow. Water is now piling up across coastal areas. A USGS gauge on Emerald Island has reported water 7 feet above normal and this water level will only increase during high tides. Reports of high water rescues across Craven county, including the New Bern area that has been hit the hardest by the storm surge. 

Rainfall totals of 7-12 inches observed through the past 24 hours, and an additional 10-20 inches could be possible, according to the latest model data. Florence should begin to weaken and pull away from the area by Sunday and Monday. 

Isaac continues to kick off thunderstorm action across the eastern Caribbean, but a recent satellite analysis of near-ocean winds shows an ill-defined center of circulation. Winds were also found not to be exceeding tropical storm strength, so the system has been downgraded to a tropical depression. 

A combination of strong wind shear and mid-level dry air should continue to weaken the system through the next 72 hours. IF there is anything left of the system after that time, conditions could become more conducive for redevelopment in the western Caribbean. For this reason, we cannot take our eyes off of Isaac just yet! The European and GFS models are now in agreement, not redeveloping Isaac over the western Caribbean. If it doesn’t develop, the trough of low pressure will most likely head west into the Yucatan peninsula and dissipate. A redeveloped storm would most likely gain latitude and head northward into the Gulf.

Tropical Storm Helene and Joyce are both quickly heading north over the open waters of the Atlantic and should not affect land.

~Meteorologist Trevor Sonnier

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