Last updated October 15, 2021

Hurricane Florence September 2018

United States

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina Friday morning, September 14, as a Category 1 hurricane. Widespread rainfall totals of 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals of greater than 30 inches, were recorded.[1] Elizabethtown received 35.93 inches between 2:00p EDT in September 13 and 10:00a EDT September 17.

Rainfall increased by over 50 percent in the heaviest precipitating parts of Florence due to human interference in the climate system, according to a first-of-its-kind advanced forecast attribution statement about the influence of climate change on a tropical cyclone.[2] Additionally, a rapid analysis found that sea level rise was responsible for 11,000 (20%) of the homes impacted by Florence's storm surge.[3]

Climate change affects hurricane activity and amplifies the damages in several ways including: (1) increasing the rainfall that drops during the storm, (2) increasing sea surface temperatures which in turn raises the maximum potential energy that a storm can reach, and (3) elevating storm surge, via sea level rise, which greatly extends the storm's reach along low-lying areas.

Sea surface temperatures along Florence's path were 3.6°F (2°C) hotter than normal.[4] The storm progressed slowly for several days near the US coastline, bringing extreme precipitation totals to the Southeast.[5] A similar situation contributed to the record rainfall during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

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Tropical Satellite
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Global Warming
Air Mass Temperature Increase
Sea Surface Temperature Increase
Land Surface Temperature Increase
Atmospheric Moisture Increase
Intense Atlantic Hurricane Frequency Increase
Glacier and Ice Sheet Melt
Thermal Expansion of the Ocean
Extreme Precipitation Increase
Storm Surge Increase
Sea Level Rise
Large Scale Global Circulation Change
Runoff and Flood Risk Increase
Wind Damage Risk Increase
Coastal Flooding Increase
Tropical Cyclone Steering Change
Hurricane Florence September 2018