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Fickle Florence: Where will she go and will she come to town?



In the last few days, Hurricane Florence has illustrated how predicting the weather has never been an exact science. Earlier this week, forecasters predicted that by Thursday, most of Virginia would be feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence in the form of heavy winds and rain.

As a precaution, school in Pulaski County was canceled. Then the unexpected happened, Thursday brought blue skies and sunshine but as Andrew Lacondo of the National Weather Service said, “You do get this good weather the day before hurricanes make landfall, which belies what’s actually coming.”

So what is actually coming?

“One take away is that flooding is still a threat with this system, especially when we get into the weekend and early next week,” said Lacondo. “Florence will be at a severely degraded state at that point but we’re still looking at a substantial amount of rain for Southwest Virginia.”

According to Lacondo, a high pressure system prevented Hurricane Florence from drifting farther north into the Triad area of North Carolina, as originally predicted. If this had occurred, the New River Valley would have likely experienced catastrophic amounts of precipitation with some predicting as high as 20 inches of rain falling over the weekend.

This high pressure system also served to slow and somewhat weaken the hurricane. Now forecasters are expecting the remnants of Florence to flow inland along the North Carolina/South Carolina border after making landfall today.

Come Sunday afternoon, the westward flow of Florence is expected to curve northward along the Appalachians, dumping heavy rainfall along the way as it flows toward West Virginia.

“The current rainfall estimates through early Tuesday for the New River Valley are around four to six inches of rain,” said Lacondo. “So, that’s a good slug of rain and while the winds won’t be as strong as what they’ll experience along the coast of the Carolinas, when you get that kind of rain and the ground is damp, it’s not going to take much to bring down trees and power lines.”

Lacondo believes that Pulaski Count may experience rain Saturday afternoon as a result of the storm. The heaviest rain is predicted to occur Sunday into Monday, finally tapering off Tuesday. Flooding is a concern, especially along the New River, as a substantial amount of rain is expected to fall on its tributaries upstream. What kind of wind will accompany the rain? Undetermined but likely less that was expected earlier in the week.

Is this the Calm Before the Storm? It’s still up in the air but New River Valley residents should keep watching the weather and the water this weekend.



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