Hurricane Florence creating waves taller than 8-story building as it nears Carolinas, experts say

Hurricane Florence is now generating waves up to 83 feet, nearly double the height measured on Tuesday.

That’s as high as an eight-story building.

It’s a detail that nearly got lost among all the wind, rain and storm surge data sent out by the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday. (That includes a prediction of 40 inches of rain in Carolinas.)

The mammoth waves were spotted early Wednesday in the storm’s northeast quadrant, said the NHC’s Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch, which has been documenting Florence’s waves all week. That’s out in open ocean, where waves are much larger than those reaching the coast as storm surge. (Waves are smaller as the water gets more shallow.)

“These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction (as) the storm’s motion,” explained a tweet sent by the analysis branch.

Chris Landsea, chief of the analysis and forecast branch, told the Associated Press that such waves are entirely possible within the storm, but there’s also a chance “radar misinterpreted rain as an 83-foot wave.”

That’s nearly double the wave heights documented on Tuesday, when the NHC said satellites had observed “an expansive area of wave heights 12 feet or greater” circulating around Hurricane Florence and peak waves of 45 feet near its center.

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The storm was more than 400 miles off the coast Wednesday, and had winds in the 125 mph range, the National Hurricane Center reported.

It is predicted the Carolinas could begin feeling tropical storm force winds late Wednesday or early Thursday.

However, experts remained unsure midday Wednesday where the storm would make landfall in the Carolinas.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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