‘Unprecedented’: Why meteorologists are calling Hurricane Florence ‘weird’

It’s not just the rain totals Hurricane Florence drops on the Carolinas that could be “unprecedented,” according to meteorologists.

It’s the fact that the storm even got there that makes Florence “weird,” they say.

No September storm has ever made a U.S. landfal after sitting within 100 miles of the point in the Atlantic Ocean where Florence did on Sept. 7, according to the Weather Channel.

All 19 of those tropical storms and hurricanes that started in the Far East Atlantic through the years have at some point curved north, carried by climatological forces to spit rain and wind mostly over the sea.

But Florence, the Weather Channel reports, is “set to debunk climatology.”

Hurricane Florence’s landfall predictions as of 5 a.m. Thursday National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

An abnormally large band of high pressure has kept Florence, the lowest pressure storm since Sandy in 2012 according to Forbes, on its peculiarly westward track that has it heading now for the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning that Florence was 170 miles away from Wilmington, North Carolina and moving at about 12 mph. The first “squally” rain bands associated with the Category 2 hurricane were moving ashore at about 6 a.m.

The excessive rain total predictions -- “more than 10 trillion gallons” or “20 to 40 inches” in some places -- is directly related to the storm’s unprecedented path to the Carolinas, Forbes guest meteorologist Marshall Shepherd reported. After refusing to take the northward turn that every other September storm before it took, Florence is predicted to stall over the Carolinas after she makes landfall.

“Common words that meteorological colleagues have been using to describe the track include ‘unprecedented,’ ‘remarkable,’ and ‘never seen before,’ Shepherd says.

The stall is something coastal communities in the U.S. have seen before. Hurricane Harvey made the same move with its landfall over Texas, as it hovered last year, dumping 50-plus inches over some Gulf Coast communities, according to NOAA.

Once the storm gets moving again, Florence is expected to jut northward, bringing rain to Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, among other states, the Weather Channel reports.

The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20-30 inches of rain in widespread portions of North Carolina associated with Florence, and spots of up to 40 inches.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Florence

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