After tearing through the Carolinas for several days, Hurricane Florence severely damaged tens of thousands of homes, killed over a dozen people, left nearly a million households without power, and unleashed thousands of cubic yards of toxic coal ash—and authorities are warning that the worst flooding from the storm is yet to come.
"For many (most?) places, the worst of Florence's flooding is still on the way," meteorologist Eric Holthaus noted in a tweet on Sunday. "Still expecting record or near-record flooding across a large part of North Carolina in the days to come."
Current flooding (left) vs flooding still to come (right).
For many (most?) places, the worst of Florence's flooding is still on the way. Still expecting record or near-record flooding across a large part of North Carolina in the days to come. pic.twitter.com/k1MwaYcN4t
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 17, 2018
While the National Hurricane Center on Sunday downgraded Florence to a tropical depression, the storm continues to dump heavy rain in North, South Carolina, and southwest Virginia, increasing the risk of landslides and additional damage.
"Catastrophic and historic river flooding will continue for days across portions of the Carolinas," the National Weather Service warned in a Facebook post late Sunday. "Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall over the next couple of days. Portions of the Carolinas, mid-Atlantic states, and Southern New England are expected to receive an additional two to five inches of rain...with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches possible."
CNN meteorologist Michael Guy added: "The issue for the Carolinas then becomes the river flooding continuing for the rest of the week. All the rain that fell on the eastern flank of the Appalachians down into central portions of the state has to go somewhere. This water will flow downstream to areas already impacted from flooding rains from Florence. Thus, the rivers will take some time to recede."
645 am... Hurricane Florence estimated rainfall amounts from Thursday afternoon through Monday morning features a large area of 15 to 20 inches of rain across Wayne, Sampson and portions of Johnston County. #Florence #ncwx pic.twitter.com/UYbLQVhvPO
— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) September 17, 2018
Videos and photos posted to social media depicting completely flooded freeways, homes half underwater, and buildings destroyed provide a glimpse of the immense scale of the devastation Florence has wrought across the Carolinas.
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"The mammoth amounts of rain observed in southern North Carolina are virtually certain to eclipse anything measured in an East Coast tropical cyclone north of Florida," noted Bob Henson of the Weather Underground.
— Charles Peek (@cpeek7) September 17, 2018
Flooding from TD #Florence continues to worsen and expand across the heart of North Carolina. Sunday will be a rough day for NC—and Florence's remnants still won't be done with the eastern U.S. https://t.co/BEmmPzpIRw pic.twitter.com/znGv7nI6D1
— Weather Underground (@wunderground) September 16, 2018
Near NC 24 btw Kenansville and Beulaville. pic.twitter.com/LGdA6vLqiv
— Drew Brooks (@DrewBrooks) September 16, 2018
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) September 16, 2018
"The storm has never been more dangerous than it is now," North Carolina's Republican Gov. Roy Cooper said during a press conference on Sunday. "Many rivers are still rising, and are not expected to crest until later today or tomorrow."