Flooding from Florence is far from over and the worst may be yet to come for some unprotected communities along the major rivers in parts of the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2018. The tropical storm spent three days crawling through the Carolinas. The threat to lives and damage wrought by Florence is still unfolding and an example of what a minimal hurricane can do.
While the worst of the rain may be over for the Carolinas, the slow-moving natural disaster, known as river flooding, is just getting underway.
As runoff from as much as 35 inches of rain works its way into the large rivers in central and eastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina, it will continue to rise the next few days.
Any soil type, let alone the famous red clay found in the Carolinas, cannot handle 2-3 feet of rain in as many days.
Both North and South Carolina set single-storm rainfall records during Florence. The old records were 17.45 inches in South Carolina during Beryl in 1994 and 24.06 inches in North Carolina during Floyd during 1999. In comparison, the rainfall from Florence was double that of Hurricane Agnes in 1972 in Pennsylvania and eclipsed that of which fell in Virginia during Hurricane Camille in 1969.
The Yadkin and Rocky rivers in mid-state North Carolina will crest at major flood stage early this week.
Some rivers in the midlands and coastal areas of the Carolinas, such as the Cape Fear, Neuse, Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw may not crest for another week and are likely to remain above flood stage through the end of September.
That means that not only will water be in homes and businesses for seven to 14 days, but roads may be impassable for the same amount of time.
However, for the mid-Atlantic region rivers, rainfall from Florence will be of much shorter duration and intensity when compared to that of the Carolinas or the situation could have been even more extensive.
Farther north, in portions of Virginia, the Dan River is forecast to crest at major flood stage early this week. The New River in West Virginia and Virginia will reach moderate flood stage, as will the Potomac River.
Florence's rainfall in the Northeast will be a drop in the bucket, compared to that which has fallen on the Carolinas. Many communities in the mid-Atlantic will welcome this news after an incredibly wet summer and some locations have had their wettest summer on record.
Since Florence's forward speed is accelerating, not enough rain is likely to fall on the Susquehanna, Ohio and Delaware river basins to cause significant flooding.
However, enough rain to trigger isolated flash flooding is possible from the central Appalachians to New England into Tuesday. Flash flooding poses a serious risk to lives no matter how isolated it may be.
For people in the Carolinas, days and weeks of cleanup and damage assessment will follow the flood.
Spotty downpours may continue to pester areas hit by flooding into Wednesday.
No big blasts of cool and dry air are foreseen through this weekend. As a result, the weather will remain very warm, humid and uncomfortable for recovery efforts.
Water may be unsafe to drink and sewage systems may not function properly. Power may not be restored for days. Poisonous snakes and other wild animals will be displaced.