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Florence rains will be ‘catastrophic ‘

Revised on: 09.14.2018 at 11:15 a.m.

Posted on: 09.14.2018 at 09:34 a.m.

Hurricane Florence will continue scouring down  the Cape Fear coast today into tomorrow, spreading record shattering rain across the entire region.

”We’re having to extrapolate some of the flood forecasts, because the data doesn’t exist,” said RIck Neuherz  of the National Weather Service Wilmington office Friday morning.

The current forecast calls for more than two feet of rain in Whiteville, and a similar amount in Lumberton. Flooding in Lumberton presaged Fair Bluff’s inundation during Matthew.

all six of the major river basins in the region will see major or record flooding begin get as early as Sunday, the NWS said.

Due to the continual rain off the ocean as Florence moves south and west, Matthew’s records likely will be broken as the storm covers the region past I-95. Winds in the 60 mile per hour range with higher gusts are expected later today through Saturday, compounding the dangerous conditions.

”This will be our Harvey,” Steve Pfaff of the NWS said, referring to the storm that swept Texas last year.

If the Lumber River fills as expected, Pfaff said, U.S. 74 in western Columbus will again be overwashed and closed for an extended period.

Whiteville likely will see deeper and farther ranging flooding than Hurricane Matthew brought in 2016, if the current forecast tracks hold.

”We have no reason to believe they won’t be accurate,” Pfaff said. “We could see more.”

While high winds are toppling trees across the area today, causing power outages and roadblocks, the most serious flooding will occur in the coming days, as runoff from upstream makes its  way into the area. Due to high water downstream, the flooding is expected to last for upwards of a week, since the estuaries and lower basins will be filled.

”This is a flood of biblical proportions, for lack of a better term,” Neuherz said.

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