20 to 40 inches of rain could be dumped on large areas of NC by Hurricane Florence

Counties along the central North Carolina coast could see 20 to 30 inches of rain this week and isolated spots might get 40 inches, if Hurricane Florence stays on its current “probable” path, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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None of the state’s 100 counties will be spared hurricane-related precipitation, but a storm update released Wednesday showed 20 to 30 inches of rain falling in all or parts of eastern North Carolina counties like Jones, Onslow, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret. Isolated spots could see 40 inches, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

The Appalachians could see 3 to 6 inches of rain, with isolated areas of 12 inches. In South Carolina, 10 inches is expected, with isolated areas of 20 inches, says the National Hurricane Center.

Inland cities like Raleigh could see up to 10 inches, as the storm moves on a northwest trek through the state, forecast maps shows.

WeatherModels.com tweeted a prediction Tuesday of “monumental rainfall totals” in coastal counties, including some spots of “rainfall up to 40 +” inches.

Charlotte will be on one of the hurricane’s border areas, with 5 to as much as 7 inches of rain in northern parts of Mecklenburg County.

All this will be accompanied by tropical hurricane-force winds that could knock down trees and cut electric power, the NHC says.

Heavy rain from tropical cyclones that leads to flooding is far more deadly on average in the United States than wind, according to the NHC.

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And on the coast, “there will be massive surge,” NWS warning coordination meteorologist Nick Petro said during the briefing. “Water is going to effect the coast via storm surge with a lot of devastation and destruction. If you ride this out ... there’s a good chance you could lose your life.”

Florence “is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday,” according to the NHC.

Hurricane-force winds are extending 40 miles out from the center “and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles,” said the National Hurricane Center.

The maximum sustained winds in the hurricane increased to 130 mph on Tuesday, with gusts reach higher, the NWS said.

“There is an increasing risk of coastal storm surge flooding and freshwater flooding from heavy prolonged rain when the hurricane approaches the U.S.,” according to a NOAA tweet on Monday.

“While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location and magnitude of these impacts, interest at the coast and inland from South Carolina into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence,” a NOAA statement said.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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