DISCUSSION: There is no question that during the days leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Florence along the East Coast of the United States, there was no shortage of questions regarding what exact track the storm was most likely to take as well as questions regarding how intense the storm was most likely to be around the time of landfall. To help answer these questions with passing time, many meteorologists will typically assess how various model forecast systems are projecting a given tropical cyclone to behave over some period and will then compare this projection to how a storm is evolving in real-time. In this way, a meteorologist will be able to more effectively make a point of comparison regarding how closely a given tropical cyclone is following an intensity and/or track forecast.
Aside from those questions noted above, which were also all well addressed for the most part in the days leading up to landfall since the center-point of the 5-day forecast was just under 30 miles from the actual point of landfall on that Friday morning just a few weeks ago. In shifting away from that point, something interesting worth noting on was how Hurricane Florence was quite resilient in the days leading up to landfall. What is meant by the reference to Hurricane Florence being “resilient” in the days preceding the landfall of this tropical cyclone is the fact that in the days leading up to landfall, hurricane Florence experience substantial wind shear from the west and southwest at times. Thus, this storm’s ability to maintain a symmetric and balanced inner convective core structure was challenged quite a bit for quite a prolonged period during the 48 to 72-hour period prior to landfall.
Although this was not expected by the majority of model forecast scenarios, this was still very much welcomed news for people both along and near coastal and semi-coastal regions along the Carolina coastline. Even despite the ultimate combination of storm surge and heavy rainfall-based flooding which went on to occur with time. This is because the inability for Hurricane Florence to maintain a symmetric inner core prevented the storm from re-intensifying any further during the 48 hours prior to landfall despite several attempts for the storm to re-develop deep convection around its circulation center. Moreover, such deep convective outbursts continued to occur even in the final hours leading up to landfall as Florence slowly skirted along the North Carolina coastline. This is also reflected in the 48-hour infrared satellite imagery loop which is attached within the Tweet linked above (courtesy of the NWS Weather Prediction Center office as well as the GOES-16 Rapid Scan Satellite Imagery). Thus, even when Hurricane Florence was exposed to far less than ideal conditions, this tropical cyclone continued to remain quite persistent in its quest to remain a dangerous and life-threatening tropical cyclone as it ultimately ended up being.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz