Hurricane Florence Rainfall Totals, Maps, Predictions, Forecasts as Major Storm Approaches

As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Southeast coast, states are preparing for what meteorologists say could be a record-breaking amount of rainfall. Making landfall on Thursday night, the storm is expected to bring dozens of inches of rain.

Like Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas with rain and flooding in 2017, Hurricane Florence could linger over the region for several days. As of Wednesday afternoon, here are the latest predictions for rainfall totals in the region likely to be hit by Florence.

Rainfall Predictions

In populated areas, rainfall predictions are anywhere from 20 to 30 inches; more isolated locations could see up to 40 inches.

"#HurricaneFlorence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 20 to 30 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 40 inches," the National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted around noon local time Wednesday. "These numbers are hard to comprehend, but based on past experience, this amount of rain produces life-threatening, catastrophic flooding."

The NWS predicts that North Carolina could see the worst of the rainfall from Hurricane Florence, with as much as 40 inches expected to be unloaded on the region during the storm.

Rainfall Locations

Low-lying areas on the state's coastline could be affected the most, and evacuations orders have already been given for many towns and counties along the shoreline. The city of Raleigh, North Carolina, the state's capital, has identified approximately 26,000 residents who live in particularly low-lying areas and have urged them to evacuate their homes immediately.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, but it is forecast to stall near the coastline late Thursday night through Saturday morning. The more the storm slows down around the Carolinas, the more rainfall the state may experience.

What It Means

The impacts of at least 20 to 30 inches of rain are that thousands of homes and buildings would be filled with water. Roads would be flooded and erode underneath, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Flooding would make traveling and evacuations challenging, and could lead to rescue missions.

Heavy rains over the Appalachian Mountains could saturate the soil and lead to rock and mudslides. The rainfall could also result in the overflowing of rivers, lakes and other water basins.

Rainfall could be particularly disastrous for North Carolina due to its sounds, NWS tropical program coordinator Joel Cline told Newsweek on Wednesday afternoon.

"Of course anywhere where the [rain] falls will have a devastating impact," Cline said. "Now, if it's up north or upstream of the sounds in North Carolina, then they'll flood too because the rivers will flood."

Flooding

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, President Donald Trump outlined the administration's plan for dealing with Hurricane Florence and warned of the large amounts of rainfall in the forecast.

"They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25, 30 years, maybe ever," the president said. "It's tremendously big and tremendously wet, tremendous amounts of water."

Flooding from heavy rains is the second-leading cause of fatalities in hurricanes that make landfall, according to the NWS. The flooding associated with torrential downpours can last well after the storm has passed.

"Once the system moves inland, it doesn't mean it stops. We could have a second maximum of rainfall," Cline told Newsweek, recalling Hurricane Dennis in North Carolina in 1999, which was compounded by Hurricane Floyd weeks later. "We had floods that lasted weeks and some areas that were in some stage of flooding for a few months."

Hurricane Florence Rainfall Totals, Maps, Predictions, Forecasts as Major Storm Approaches | U.S.