Travel Warning: US Hurricane Florence - Southeast

11 Sep 2018

Event:Hurricane Florence 
Center of Circulation:Approximately 1,900 km (1,180 miles) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina 
Maximum Sustained Winds:120 kts (225 kph, 140 mph) 
Projected Landfall (Date):Possibly near Wilmington, North Carolina (late Sept. 13) 
Affected Areas:North Carolina; South Carolina; Virginia; West Virginia; Maryland (

Hurricane Florence has undergone rapid intensification in the past 24 hours over the Atlantic Ocean. As of 1700 AST Sept. 10, the center of the Category 4 storm was approximately 1,900 km (1,180 miles) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Additional strengthening is possible in the coming days, and Florence could approach Category 5 status around Sept. 12. Current forecast models indicate that the hurricane will slightly weaken as it approaches the Carolina coastline due to increased wind shear; however, Florence will likely make landfall as a dangerous Category 4 storm with winds of up to 225 kph (140 mph) near the center of circulation. 

Forecast models continue to come into better agreement that Florence will make landfall between South Carolina and the Virginia Tidewater late Sept. 13. As of Sept. 10, the most likely landfall location is near Wilmington, North Carolina. Anticipate considerable changes in Florence's track and intensity forecast over the coming days. There are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect; however, officials from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) anticipate issuing storm surge and hurricane watches for parts of the eastern seaboard starting on Sept. 11. 

If Florence makes landfall, life-threatening weather conditions are likely in the Carolinas, Virginia, and parts of West Virginia and Maryland. Government officials in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have issued state of emergency declarations in anticipation of a landfalling hurricane. As of Sept. 10, the following mandatory evacuation orders have been issued: 

South Carolina 
All evacuation zones in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, and Jasper counties (effective 1200 EDT Sept. 11) 

North Carolina 
Brunswick County:Low-lying flood prone areas and mobiles homes (effective Sept. 11) 
Currituck County:Currituck Outer Banks (Corolla and Carova) (effective 0700 EDT Sept. 11) 
Dare County:Hatteras Island (effective 1200 EDT Sept. 10); entire county (effective 0700 EDT Sept. 11) 
Hyde County:Ocracoke (visitors to leave starting Sept. 10; residents starting Sept. 11) 
New Hanover County:University of North Carolina Wilmington (effective 0800 EDT Sept. 11) 

As forecasts become more clear and coastal weather alerts are issued by the NHC, officials could issue additional mandatory evacuation orders in the affected area. In order to facilitate evacuation orders in South Carolina, contraflow lane reversals will be implemented starting at 1200 EDT Sept. 11 on sections of I-26 and US 501. Authorities are prepared to also implement additional lane reversals along US 21 and US 278 if traffic conditions warrant. 

Hazardous Conditions 
Ultimately, the potential impact to the region, including rainfall amounts, wind speeds, and storm surge levels remain uncertain at this time. There is the possibility for the system to significantly slow or stall over the region, potentially bringing a long-duration and dangerous rainfall and flooding event in the Carolinas and parts of the Mid-Atlantic through at least Sept. 16. Preliminary forecast models - which are subject to change over the coming days - indicate that widespread rainfall totals of 15-25 cm (6-10 inches), with localized totals in excess of 60 cm (24 inches), are possible in parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and eastern West Virginia. This amount of rainfall will undoubtedly cause life-threatening flash and areal flooding for a prolonged period of time. Several dams and reservoirs could become overwhelmed and subject to failure. 

Extensive and historic storm surge inundation and coastal flooding is likely in the Carolinas and possibly into the Chesapeake Bay; if the storm stalls just inland, onshore flow could cause storm surge to persist over multiple high tide cycles. The extent and magnitude of storm surge levels will become clearer in the coming days. 

Further assistance

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If you require emergency assistance while travelling, please contact Chubb Insurance Assistance. The contact details are listed below:

Travel emergency 24/7 contact

Chubb Assistance phone +61 2 8907 5995 and quote UQ policy number 01PP529201. Reverse phone charge is available.