By Erin Smith
Residents along the Southeastern Coast of the United States should be in the final stages of preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence on Thursday. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Bladen County on Tuesday morning.
All residents are strongly encouraged to take this storm seriously, said Elizabethtown Town Manager Eddie Madden.
Meteorologist Steven Pfaff, with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a conference call briefing on the storm on Tuesday morning there has been very little change in the forecast track of Hurricane Florence.
“I strongly encourage the public to heed their Emergency Management officials,” said Pfaff.
Pfaff said the storm is expected to slow down as it begins to make landfall which will potentially increase the rainfall values. He added the rainfall amounts will vary depending on the exact track the storm takes but rainfall is expected to occur from Thursday into Friday.
Pfaff storm surge is expected to reach 2 to 4 feet above ground level and will inundate some locations.
“There will be water in places that don’t particularly see water (in a storm like this),” said Pfaff.
He said tropical storm force winds should begin to impact the Carolina coastline sometime on Thursday morning and hurricane force winds will begin to come onshore Friday. Pfaff added the storm is forecast to continue strengthening and residents need to continue to make preparations and monitor its progress.
“This has the potential to be a historic event,” said Pfaff.
Hurricane Florence could be as strong as Hurricane Hugo which made landfall in Charleston, SC and Hurricane Fran which made landfall on North Carolina coast, according to Pfaff.
Shelters were scheduled to open in Bladen County at 12 noon on Wednesday. The shelter locations are East Bladen High School, West Bladen High School, Bladen Lakes Primary School and East Arcadia School. West Bladen High School has been designated as the pet friendly shelter.
Bladen County could receive between 7 to 10 inches of rain depending on the track of the storm, according to the National Weather Service. Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw said residents who live in low-lying areas and those who reside along rivers need to make preparations for possible flooding.