Landfalling Category 4 hurricanes are rare in the mainland U.S., with just 24 such landfalls since 1851—an average of one every seven years. (Category 5 landfalls are rarer still, with just three on record). All but three of these 27 landfalls by Cat4s and Cat5s have occurred south of South Carolina’s latitude; thus, Florence will be in very select company if it manages to make landfall at Category 4 strength in North or South Carolina. If Florence hits the coast of North or South Carolina as a Category 3 or stronger hurricane, we should expect to see record storm surge heights, with a 15 – 20’ surge very possible,

according to two experts I communicated with today. Dr. Robert Young, Professor of Coastal Geology at Western Carolina University, says that “the track of Hurricane Florence, combined with its expected size and strength at landfall and the unique coastal geomorphology of the region, is likely to result in a record storm surge along portions of the warning area.” And according to storm surge expert Dr. Hal Needham, “we could definitely see a 20+ foot storm surge/storm tide in the Carolinas. Even if Florence weakens a bit in the time right before landfall, the surge heights correlate better with the pre-landfall winds than the winds at landfall.” READ MORE