Hurricane Dorian to unload feet of rain, trigger major flooding in southeastern U.S. following landfall

While the exact track of Hurricane Dorian is becoming more certain, with a strike along the central Florida Atlantic coast the most probable outcome, the tropical cyclone is likely to unleash torrential rain and raise the risk of flooding after landfall next week.

Following major impact to lives and property due to high winds and coastal flooding, heavy rain and inland flooding may be Dorian's second wind over the southeastern United States.

Factors affecting Dorian's path into U.S.

There are a few weather features that will affect the track of Dorian and the amount of rainfall that is released as it moves along through next week.

The first is a relatively common area of high pressure over the west-central Atlantic. A clockwise flow around this high is, in part, directing Dorian on its current northwest path.

Dorian Caribbean path

A second feature is a large storm in the middle layer of the atmosphere over the Caribbean that is not so common. The counter-clockwise flow around this storm is also pushing Dorian to the northwest.

However, as Dorian continues to move along, the influence on the high pressure area may diminish, while the winds around the upper-level storm are forecast to become more east to west and then direct Dorian on a more westerly track toward Florida.

The third player is a non-tropical storm that will progress eastward from the Midwest to the Northeastern U.S. next week. The speed of this system may be critical for eventually turning Dorian to the north.

Dorian Turn

"How soon that non-tropical storm pulls Dorian northward will determine whether or not Dorian indeed makes landfall in Florida or turns northward toward the Carolinas at the last minute," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

AccuWeather meteorologists are projecting Dorian to make landfall as a major hurricane with the intensity of a Category 4 and maximum sustained winds of 130 mph or greater along the middle of Florida's east coast.

Along the Florida coast, near and north of the eye, widespread power outages and coastal flooding are anticipated. Property damage may be dependent on the quality of the construction of buildings in the region, which is more stringent in Florida, when compared to other areas.

After making landfall in Florida, a gradual curved path to the north and northeast is anticipated with heavy and excessive rainfall along the way.

A track that takes the storm over enough of the Gulf of Mexico to allow for substantial restrengthening, no longer appears likely.

Localized to widespread flooding forecast to spread northward from Dorian

Emergency managers and government officials should plan ahead for the secondary phase of Dorian's legacy.

Due to the slow-forward speed of the storm after landfall, prolonged tropical downpours will be unleashed that will lead to substantial urban and low-lying area flooding over interior Florida initially during Sunday night to Tuesday.

Rainfall over much the central and northern part of the Florida Peninsula is expected to range between 8 and 16 inches with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches.

Dorian SE Rain

The nature of the rain and flooding is likely to change as the storm, still loaded with moisture, slowly weakens over the Southeast during the middle to latter days of the first week of September.

Over the Southeast states, the terrain changes from being relatively flat with a sandy soil over the Florida Peninsula to hilly with clay and loam over interior Georgia and the Carolinas.

As heavy rainfall from the storm moves inland, the terrain and soils can lead to more problems with stream and river flooding, while urban flooding issues continue.

Parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama are in need of rain, but not the 6-12 inches that could fall with locally higher amounts. Tropical cyclones can cause such conditions to dramatically turn around.

Soil conditions ranging from normal to moderate drought could easily become saturated in some areas and lead to significant runoff.

21 PHOTOS
Hurricane Dorian
See Gallery
Hurricane Dorian
This Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 image provided by NASA shows a view of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico. Leaving mercifully little damage in its wake in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Dorian swirled toward the U.S., with forecasters warning it will draw energy from the warm, open waters as it closes in. (NASA via AP)
Store shelves are empty of bottled water as residents buy supplies in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, in Doral, Fla., Thursday, July 29, 2019. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane. (AP Photo/Marcus Lim)
Shoppers prepare ahead of Hurricane Dorian at The Home Depot on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Empty shelves are seen with a sign at Costco stating that the retailer is currently sold out of water ahead of Hurricane Dorian on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, left, looks on as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about Tropical Storm Dorian outside of the the National Hurricane Center, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
This GOES-16 satellite image taken Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, at 14:20 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Dorian, right, moving over open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to grow into a potentially devastating Category 3 hurricane before hitting the U.S. mainland late Sunday or early Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia. (NOAA via AP)
Shoppers wait in long lines at Costco, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Davie, Fla., as they stock up on supplies ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 30: People walk to their boat through a flooded parking lot at the Haulover Marine Center before the arrival of Hurricane Dorian on August 30, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. The high water was due to King tide which may cause additional problems as Hurricane Dorian arrives in the area as a possible Category 4 storm along the Florida coast. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 30: Weston Rice drives through a flooded parking lot as he prepares to drop his jet ski into the water at the Haulover Marine Center before the arrival of Hurricane Dorian on August 30, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. The high water was due to King tide which may cause additional problems as Hurricane Dorian arrives in the area as a possible Category 4 storm along the Florida coast. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A man stands on a store's roof as he works to prepare it for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Hurricane Dorian intensified yet again Sunday as it closed in on the northern Bahamas, threatening to batter islands with Category 5-strength winds, pounding waves and torrential rain. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
This GOES-16 satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, at 17:00 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Dorian, right, churning over the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas on Sunday as a catastrophic Category 5 storm, its 185 mph winds ripping off roofs and tearing down power lines as hundreds hunkered in schools, churches and other shelters. (NOAA via AP)
President Donald Trump, left, listens as Kenneth Graham, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, on screen, gives an update during a briefing about Hurricane Dorian at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Washington, at right of Trump is Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and Neil Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing about Hurricane Dorian at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Washington, as Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, left, looks on. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
People walk on a largely deserted beach of the Atlantic Ocean on the barrier island in Vero Beach, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. The barrier island is under a voluntary evacuation today and a mandatory evacuation tomorrow in preparation for the possibility of Hurricane Dorian making landfall. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 1: Workers place shutters over the windows of a Food Mart store as the owner prepares just in case Hurricane Dorian hits the area on September 1, 2019 in Riviera Beach, Florida. Dorian was projected to make landfall along the Florida coast but now projections have it making a sharp turn to the north as it closes in on Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Tree branches are seen in the road during the approach of Hurricane Dorian on September 1, 2019 in Nassau, Bahamas. - Hurricane Dorian strengthened into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Sunday, packing 160 mph (267 kph) winds as it was about to slam into the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, US weather forecasters said."#Dorian is now a category 5 #hurricane with 160 mph sustained winds," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a tweet. "The eyewall of this catastrophic hurricane is about to hit the Abaco Islands with devastating winds," it said.The slow moving storm was expected to linger over the Bahamas through Sunday and much of Monday, dumping up to 25 inches of rain in some areas and unleashing storm surges of 10 to 15-feet, forecasters said. (Photo by Lucy WORBOYS / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUCY WORBOYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tree branches are seen in the road during the approach of Hurricane Dorian on September 1, 2019 in Nassau, Bahamas. - Hurricane Dorian strengthened into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Sunday, packing 160 mph (267 kph) winds as it was about to slam into the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, US weather forecasters said."#Dorian is now a category 5 #hurricane with 160 mph sustained winds," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a tweet. "The eyewall of this catastrophic hurricane is about to hit the Abaco Islands with devastating winds," it said.The slow moving storm was expected to linger over the Bahamas through Sunday and much of Monday, dumping up to 25 inches of rain in some areas and unleashing storm surges of 10 to 15-feet, forecasters said. (Photo by Lucy WORBOYS / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUCY WORBOYS/AFP/Getty Images)
The entrance to Wambasso Beach County Park is closed in Wambasso Beach, Florida on September 1, 2019, ahead of Hurricane Dorian. - Hurricane Dorian unleashed "catastrophic conditions" as it hit the northern Bahamas, lashing the low-lying island chain with devastating 180 mph (285 kph) winds, the most intense in its modern history. Florida residents, meanwhile, were bracing for a potentially dangerous brush with the storm as it slowly turns north after passing the Bahamas. (Photo by Adam DelGiudice / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADAM DELGIUDICE/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump receives a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on Hurricane Dorian in Washington, DC, on September 1, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump receives a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on Hurricane Dorian in Washington, DC, on September 1, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC OCEAN - SEPTEMBER 1: In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, now a Cat. 5 storm, tracks towards the Florida coast taken at 13:20Z September 1, 2019 in the Atlantic Ocean. A hurricane warning is in effect for much of the northwestern Bahamas as it gets hit with 175 mph winds. According to the National Hurricane Center Dorian is predicted to hit the U.S. as a Category 4 storm. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"Should Dorian stall over Florida and not get picked up by the storm moving in from the Midwest, less rain may fall over the Carolinas, but even more rain could fall on the Florida Peninsula," Pastelok said.

Recall that Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 stalled for days over southeastern Texas and unloaded several feet of rain on the region. In 2018, Hurricane Florence stalled and produced devastating flooding over the Carolinas.

At this time, the most likely scenario is fore Dorian to be picked up by the non-tropical storm sweeping across the Midwest next week.

That Midwest storm should draw Dorian and its rain northeastward along the Atlantic seaboard during the next Thursday to Saturday period.

Heavy rain and disruptions to outdoor plans could occur in the mid-Atlantic region by next weekend.

It is conceivable, depending on how close to the Atlantic the storm tracks, it may remain as a tropical storm or depression until eventually reaching the cold waters of the North Atlantic, where is merges with a non-tropical storm.

If Dorian were to stay relatively close to the coast while heading northeastward next week, rough surf, coastal flooding and locally damaging wind may conceivably spread northward along the Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey coasts as well.

Should Dorian venture well inland over the Southeast or possibly stall over the Florida Peninsula, transition to a tropical rainstorm with little wind would occur.

Read Full Story