East Coast Nervous About Major Hurricane Florence

September 7th, 2018 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

We are now at the climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, and Mother Nature is revving into high gear. We could have up to three hurricanes in the Atlantic in the coming days, as strong easterly waves continue to emerge from the west coast of Africa:

GOES-16 view of the North Atlantic, midday September 7, 2018.

Florence is of the most immediate concern. While still about 6 days away, a variety of weather forecast models are beginning to converge in their forecasts for Hurricane Florence to make landfall somewhere between the Carolinas and Delaware. The latest “spaghetti” plot compiled by the South Florida Water Management District shows the model forecast tracks to be clustering along the mid-Atlantic, with the latest (11 a.m. EDT) official NHC forecast represented by the heavy red line:

(The westward and northward tracks in the above plot can be ignored.) Florence has temporarily weakened to a strong tropical storm, but should become a hurricane again this weekend, and then a major hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph) on Monday or Tuesday.

The two most-watched forecast models are the European ECMWF and the NOAA GFS. Even though it is still too early to place much confidence in their forecasts 6 days out, to give some idea of how those models are treating Florence, here’s this morning’s GFS model bringing Florence inland in North Carolina Thursday morning with wind gusts to 120 mph (graphic courtesy of WeatherBell.com):

GFS model forecast of Hurricane Florence landfall on the North Carolina coast on Thursday, September 13. This forecast time is still 6 days away, and so likely has a substantial forecast errors.

The GFS then takes Florence up into central Virgina, with 6 to 12 inches of total rainfall mostly east of the track.

The most recent ECMWF model run from last night takes Florence well inland after making landfall near the border of North and South Carolina.

Consistent with the GFS model, Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell.com earlier today predicted the hurricane might track up the Shenandoah Valley, centered on a region already waterlogged from a wet summer, and produce large amounts of additional rainfall the area does not need.

What we know for sure is that large waves and strong rip currents will be a threat along the eastern seaboard this weekend.

Again, it is still too early to place much confidence in any specific forecast. But the trend toward an East Coast landfall is becoming worrisome, and so residents in hurricane-prone areas, especially in the mid-Atlantic states, should be watching the official forecasts from the National Hurricane Center over the next few days in case serious preparations become necessary.

63 Responses to “East Coast Nervous About Major Hurricane Florence”

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  1. Michael McNichol says:

    Thanks for your insight Roy! Living in SE VA at 7.3ft above MSL makes me nervous too.

  2. RW says:

    Thanks for the detailed report, Roy. Hopefully the forcasters are wrong.

  3. RW says:

    Well, I should say hopefully those models forecasting landfall are wrong. A few do show it staying out to sea. Let’s hope they’re right.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      RW…”…hopefully those models forecasting landfall are wrong”.

      The difference between those models and the climate models is the validation of the former. The weather models are programmed with a vast amount of real data and experience from seasoned meteorologists.

      I watched a program on that recently. A meteorlogist explained how they use stored data and experience to predict the path of a storm. They begin with a broad sweep then narrow it down.

      At the end, he admitted they are still wrong in certain situations, a refreshing comment to my ears.

      At least they can admit that and have the integrity to do so. Climate modelers on the other hand act like prima donnas, making absurd claims regarding the infallibility of their unvalidated models.

  4. Gordon Robertson says:

    Roy…”Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell.com earlier today predicted the hurricane might track up the Shenandoah Valley, centered on a region already waterlogged from a wet summer, and produce large amounts of additional rainfall the area does not need”.

    Ah!!!….that explains where our rain got to this summer. This has been the driest summer in a long time in the Vancouver, Canada region. We seem to have had a high pressure area stalled over us since mid June.

    Got some rain today, but just a sprinkle.

    • David Appell says:

      This post isn’t about you.

      Shut up. Let it be and let the discussion pertain to the topic of the post.

      • Mike Flynn says:


        You wrote

        . . . cant you just shut up . . .

        Have you ever considered following the advice you dispense so eloquently?

        Do you think religion is useful?


        • Mike Flynn says:


          I meant to write “‘” (punctuation went missing) and “repetition” rather than “religion”. My bad.

          If you prefer expressing an opinion on whether religion or repetition is more useful, feel free.


  5. Mike Flynn says:

    Assuming the hurricane won’t hit might be fatal.

    Assuming it might hit may have less adverse consequences. I’m more in favour of a “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” approach.

    Cyclone “Marcus” a few months ago only had 130 kmh winds, but uprooted a couple of thousand trees, and left about 26,000 homes without power. As for me, a couple of garden plants needed putting upright after the blow, and I collected a bit of debris here and there.

    Not even a power outage, just a little island of comparative calm, amongst a sea of destruction.

    Good luck helps. I wish all those likely to be affected, all the luck I would wish myself.


    • Nate says:


      I’m glad you seem to understand that hurricane or cyclone forecasts ought to be taken seriously. Their accuracy even days out is very impressive.

      But just remember, the models that give these forecasts are built on our excellent understanding of atmospheric physics.

      An essential part of that understanding is how heat is moved around in the atmosphere, including by the greenhouse effect….the thing that you deny exists.

  6. Aaron S says:

    Anyone know when hurricanes/ cyclones are close in geographic distance and time, do they interact? Like if Florence organizes and feeds on temperature gradients to grow, does this discourage Gordon from growing? Seems one could deplete either the cold or warm energy defining the temperature gradient.

    • jimc says:

      Interesting question. My guess: Hurricanes process immense amounts of energy. I’ve seen numbers like 10**17 Joules/day. I don’t know where it winds up. The atmosphere does get overturned, so I assume a lot of it gets lifted toward the stratosphere where it can radiate to space. With two of them, it seems the leader would rob fuel from the follower.

    • Nate says:

      The gradient that drives the engine is between ocean surface and stratosphere.

      I recall we were discussing Harvey I think, and we saw in satellite images the trail of cold water left behind in its path through the gulf.

      I would think another storm passing thru this cool trail would be weakened.

  7. CO2isLife says:

    This post helps to understand why CO2 can’t be the cause.

    Why CO2 is Irrelevant to the Earths Lower Atmosphere; You Cant Absorb More than 100%

    • Svante says:

      Global warming and the surface budget fallacy:

      “The prime importance of the top-of-atmosphere balance was emphasized with crystal clarity in Manabe’s work of the early 1960’s, but one still encounters the surface budget fallacy in discussions of global warming from time to time even today.”

    • David Appell says:

      CO2: Saturation is a myth. Because the atmosphere also emits CO2, not just the surface.

      This is covered in any basic textbook on climate science. You should know it. The ignorance is your’s, not the scientists’.

  8. Snape says:


    Here is a recent thermal image of Hurricane Florence:


    Yellow represents cold, orange colder, red the coldest.

  9. Snape says:

    I’m not 100%, though. Could be a color enhanced visible image, where the brightest white clouds are red.

  10. Snape says:


    I’m pretty sure your theory is right, it’s just that satellite IR imagery is confusing.

    The satellites don’t “see” the air temperature. They see the ocean or land surface (warm), and next to it they see a cloud top (much colder).

  11. Snape says:

    You can find a variety of amazing satellite images here:


  12. Snape says:

    For example, this animation of Florence can be seen by clicking on Caribbean/geocolor/GIFS


    • jimc says:

      The visible light animation is impressive. It’s already big enough to cover everything from mid-Florida to North Carolina.

  13. John F. Hultquist says:

    From high & dry in Washington State,
    I just sent a message to friends back East:

    “Those living on the coast of N.C. or VA might want to pack the kids and dog in the car and go to Nashville for a few days next week.”

    Thanks Roy, for the nice summary of what is known.

    Can it be argued that Florence will take some energy out of the water so the next two won’t have so much to work with?

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      John…”From high & dry in Washington State….”

      Not so dry in Vancouver, Canada, just north of you. I am listening to the rain pouring down outside. The rain is welcome, the first real rain since mid June, however, it appears we are in for an early Fall here.

      It’s currently 15C and we have rain predicted for the next week.

  14. .

    Global Warming – Did we Pass or Fail?

    A detailed analysis of global warming, in the different regions of the Earth.

    – the Arctic region

    – the Antarctic region

    – the Land

    – the Oceans

    – the entire Earth

    This article is very relevant, to the problem of global warming.

    Can we save the Earth, and the human race?

    Have the 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius temperature limits, become irrelevant?


    • Gordon Robertson says:

      Sheldon….from your site…”This analysis was done using the GISTEMP gridded temperature series ….”

      Your analysis is based on fudged data that is seriously awry. You cannot seriously claim to be a skeptic and offering proof of global warming using such data.

      • David Appell says:

        Gordon, when are you going to present evidence of this alleged “fudging?”

        When are you going to tell us how you would correct the biases in the raw data?

        When are you going to admit that bias corrections REDUCE the long-term warming trend?

  15. RAH says:

    Concerning Florence I posted this very early Wed. morning at Tony Heller’s site.

    RAH says:
    September 5, 2018 at 12:40 pm
    So even the hurricane hunters couldn’t make Gordon a hurricane. But Florence is on the horizon and THAT is and has been the storm that should be watched carefully for most people. So put your guesses in. Hit or no hit? If hit, approximately where does she come ashore?
    My guess is HIT as a major on the outer banks of NC.

    As for Gordon? I had a run in with it’s remnants.

    I’m a salary on call driver that works out a terminal in Anderson, IN (About 25 NNE of Indianapolis). My job it to cover loads that don’t get covered or when something happens such as a driver doesn’t show up or calls off a load he/she committed to. Not unusual for drivers to call off a load they’ve committed to when they find out there is going to be bad weather along their route.

    Though I was supposed to be off duty they called me anyway and I agreed to go. This has become almost normal lately. I’ve worked both of my days off the last three weekends in a row. Too many loads and not enough drivers.

    Thought the remnants of Tropical depression Gordon were weak but found out otherwise.
    Friday morning at 06:00 I was woken up with a call to go. Nissan load to Canton, MS. Best route down is to take I-70 west out of Indy to Effingham, IL to I-57 south down to I-55 south. It’s 708 miles one way and the time is very tight. I had only 14 minutes left of my 11 hour driving time when I got to Canton. Figured I would hit the remnants of Gordon on the way down. Nothing! no rain and not much wind. So I thought I was home free. Delivered at Canton dropping the trailer in door 175 of their receiving facility and hooked to the trailer to bring back that was loaded with empty parts racks and totes and tubs. I then took my 10 hour break.

    At 04:08 central time Saturday morning I headed home. Decided to go back the same way I had come. When I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi and passed into southern IL it started drizzling. When I got to about 10 miles south of Mt. Vernon I hit a wall of hard horizontal rain coming across from the west. The kind of stuff some drivers of 4-wheelers pull on the shoulder to wait out. For 15 miles it was very tough and coming down so fast that even on the interstate there was puddling water. I pushed on making the best time I could. Then about 5 miles north of Mt. Vernon there was little wind and a light rain for about 5 miles and then hard rain with winds out of the north east. By the time I got to Effingham and turned west on I-70 I was in a head wind that gradually shifted to coming out of the south as I went further west. Rain all the way home. I pulled into the terminal in Anderson, IN with 19 minutes left on my 11 hour driving time.

    Because I have been so busy I hadn’t had a change to get the truck washed in the last few weeks and it needed. It’s nice and clean now though. Gods truck wash did an excellent job. Not a bug splat on it.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      RAH…good to hear you are alive and well and still haulin’.

      • RAH says:

        Yea. Hauling like crazy. Runs last week all originating and ending at the terminal in Anderson, IN.

        Dexter, MO
        Smithville, TN then Mt. Juliet, TN.
        Canton, MS.

        Though there are more big trucks on the road than I have every seen in my 14 year driving career, this country is very short of drivers. Saw an add for a $16,000 sign on bonus the other day. Schneider National is offering up to $12,000 and many others offering $8,000. Guys in Texas hauling oil from the fields to refiners are making well over 6 figures now. In fact I would not be surprised if trucking becomes a limiting factor on economic growth if something doesn’t change. And it’s just not drivers. It’s also trucks. Waiting time for a new big truck ordered from major manufactures now is getting close to a year!

        So, not enough drivers and equipment to cover all the freight available makes for a very busy time for drivers like me that are forced dispatch.

        • Gordon Robertson says:

          RAH…”So, not enough drivers and equipment to cover all the freight available makes for a very busy time for drivers like me that are forced dispatch”.

          Hope you are making good money for your efforts.

          Remember to get out regularly to stretch your legs. Deep vein thrombosis has become an issue in this day and age where people sit for hours on end without walking about to circulate the blood. Blood clots can form in the lower legs, and if they break free and get to the heart or lungs they can be lethal.

          Pain and swelling in the lower extremities are an indication of clots.

          Popping a couple of 80 mg Aspirin should help keep clots from forming. Aspirin is good in small quantities but in higher quantities can cause issues in the stomach. A couple of 80 mg every 4 – 6 hours while driving should do no harm, It will also help ward off heart attacks.

          If you ever feel the symptoms of one, however, keep Aspirin handy. Chew a 325 mg, maybe two. Don’t just swallow, chew them, no matter how bitter, and maybe follow with a mouthful of water. Of course, get to the nearest ER asap.

          My buddy is a trucker and it happened to him. He was unloading and did not feel so hot. He drove back down to the road and bit and decided to check into a motel. He felt worse and called a doctor who had him immediately flown to a big city hospital. Saved his life, he had a blocked artery in his heart.

          You can buy flavoured, chewable Aspirin.

          • Svante says:

            Faulting Einstein and prescribing drugs, what an all-rounder.

          • Gordon Robertson says:

            svante…”RAH…”I turned EAST on I-70 not west”.

            Too bad, weather’s not bad out west. Bit of rain, but hey, it beats 3 FEET of rain”.

            Not only that, I have devastating good looks and a disarming smile.

          • Gordon Robertson says:

            svante…”Faulting Einstein and prescribing drugs, what an all-rounder”.

            Not only that, I have devastating good looks and a disarming smile.

          • Gordon Robertson says:

            Boy…this one sure got cross-linked.

            “svanteRAHI turned EAST on I-70 not west.

            Too bad, weathers not bad out west. Bit of rain, but hey, it beats 3 FEET of rain.

            Not only that, I have devastating good looks and a disarming smile”.

  16. RAH says:

    I turned EAST on I-70 not west.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      RAH…”I turned EAST on I-70 not west”.

      Too bad, weather’s not bad out west. Bit of rain, but hey, it beats 3 FEET of rain.

  17. Gordon Robertson says:

    svante…”The prime importance of the top-of-atmosphere balance was emphasized with crystal clarity in Manabes work of the early 1960s….”

    Manabe was the German counterpart of Callander. Neither had a firm grasp on the physics of the atmosphere. Both were subject to knee-jerk conclusions with no proof to back them.

    • David Appell says:

      Hilarious — Gordon thinks he gets to tell Callendar and Manabe how the atmosphere works.

      Dunning-Kruger at its pinnacle.

    • Svante says:

      Are you sure Gordon, he doesn’t look very German:

      • Gordon Robertson says:

        svante…..”Are you sure Gordon, he doesnt look very German:”

        Oh…that’s his brother. They were separated at birth, being Siamese twins, one Siamese and the other German.

        They both have the same name, in the same way the brothers on the Newhart show are called Larry, Daryl, and Daryl.

        The German Manabe was very private so it’s unlikely he’d show up on Wiki.

        Callander had an Asian twin as well.

  18. Eben says:

    It is coming, Better put up some solar panels quick on the roof to protect yourself

    • RAH says:

      yep! Though according to Joe Bastardi the African wave production machine in the MDR is shutting down after Helene.

      Isaac is the most interesting to me. Tougher to figure out where it’s going and what it’s going to do than either of the other two.

  19. Aaron S says:

    Interesting thermal image. Sorry i can not reply anymore. My comments go straight to bottom.

    • Bindidon says:

      Maybe you should first enter nickname and address before clicking on ‘Submit Comment’.

    • Gordon Robertson says:

      Aaron…which browser? Are you running add-ons or extensions?

      If so, you may have to white list Roy’s site so the browser add-on don’t intercept javascript from Roy’s site, which goes through WordPress.

      The link you click on to submit a comment is likely in javascript. If you have a javascript editor like NoScript and you have not declared Roy’s site OK, it can do all sorts of funny things to links.

      Try a couple of browsers. Hold your nose and try Internet Explorer and/or load the Google browser. Maybe you are using that already, so try Firefox or Opera.

  20. RAH says:

    It’s looking like Florence is going to be the major weather disaster in the lower 48 this year. The European model composite is forecasting over THREE FEET of rain to fall in areas of the Carolinas and Virginia that are already inundated by excessive rains of late. Getting hit by a major is bad enough but when one loiters over your already soaked land for five or ten days only bad things can come from it.

    Years ago I went down to Wilmington, NC to consult on the installation of a feed system for a big open top incinerator. The purpose of that incinerator was to burn all of the fallen vegetation and trash wood from storm and hurricane damage. The guy doing the work was making a fortune in that business. If he’s still there he’s in for another windfall most likely.

  21. Snape says:

    “Early next year, the U.S. will move to new global model. The new model (FV-3) was developed at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamical Lab (GFDL) in Princeton and will replace the old Global Forecast System (GFS) model that has been around forever.

    The new model is being run in parallel right now and fascinatingly, it is providing very different forecasts than the current system for Hurricane Florence, which is now approaching the SE U.S..”


  22. Rah says:

    Made an extra $ 510.00 each of the last three weeks.

  23. Gordon Robertson says:

    DA…”CO2: Saturation is a myth. Because the atmosphere also emits CO2, not just the surface.

    This is covered in any basic textbook on climate science. You should know it. The ignorance is yours, not the scientists”

    The only text book you read on climate science is that rubbish by Pierrehumbert.

    How does the atmosphere emit CO2? Bottles of beer emit CO2 once uncapped.

    • barry says:

      Presumably a mind-typo. He meant to write (IR) radiation, not CO2. It’s not the first time he’s pointed that out.

      • Gordon Robertson says:

        barry…”Presumably a mind-typo. He meant to write (IR) radiation, not CO2. Its not the first time hes pointed that out”.

        I was yanking his chain. ☺

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