Bog note: And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11). Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. This verse from Luke is one of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains that occur in greater severity, frequency, size and duration prior to giving birth. End of note.
Florence May Be the Strongest U.S. Landfall on Record So Far North
By Bob Henson. weather.com
At a Glance
- Only four hurricanes have made landfall at Category 4 strength north of Florida.
- If Florence behaves as predicted, it could be the strongest U.S. landfall on record so far north.
- Some weaker landfalls in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast still caused massive damage.
- Warmer-than-average waters for this time of year are helping Florence to strengthen.
Along the huge swath of Atlantic coastline from Carolina Beach, North Carolina, northward, no hurricane on record has made landfall at Category 4 strength. Hurricane Florence could make history on Thursday night if it becomes the first one ever confirmed to make landfall that far north at Category 4 strength, which forecast models are suggesting is quite possible. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center projects that Florence will reach the southern or central coast of North Carolina while at or close to Category 4 strength on Thursday evening. The track could still veer south or north of the midpoint location.
Category 4 storms are increasingly uncommon as you move north beyond the tropics and subtropics. This is because hurricanes need warm water to survive, but as you move north, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are less likely to be above 79 degrees Fahrenheit, the minimum typically needed to sustain a hurricane. Also, hurricane-hindering wind shear tends to be stronger in the middle latitudes than in the tropics.
In NOAA landfall records going back to 1851, a total of 27 hurricanes are known to have reached the U.S. coast at Category 4 or 5 strength, meaning that they made landfall with top sustained winds of at least 130 mph. Only four of those landfalls occurred on the East Coast north of Florida, and three of those four were only at minimal Category 4 strength.
– Georgia Hurricane: October 2, 1898 (130 mph, Cumberland Island, GA). The strongest hurricane on record in Georgia, this storm caused severe damage in the Brunswick area and also affected nearby parts of Florida and South Carolina. At least 179 people were killed.
– Hurricane Hazel: October 15, 1954 (130 mph, near the South Carolina/North Carolina border). Hazel is the farthest-north Category 4 landfall on record.
After killing hundreds of people in floods across Haiti, the hurricane intensified on its north-northwest trek near the Bahamas and struck the Carolina coast at the highest lunar tide of the year while at peak strength.
According to Dr. Jeff Masters (Weather Underground), the official report from the Weather Bureau in Raleigh, North Carolina, stated that as a result of Hazel, “all traces of civilization on the immediate waterfront between the state line and Cape Fear were practically annihilated.” Hazel went on to cause major inland flooding as far north as Toronto. At least 95 U.S. deaths were attributed to Hazel.
– Hurricane Gracie: September 29, 1959 (130 mph, near Edisto Beach, SC). Because it struck at low tide, Gracie’s storm surge was relatively low for a hurricane of its strength. Ten deaths were reported in Georgia and South Carolina.
– Hurricane Hugo, 1989: September 22, 1989 (140 mph, just north of Charleston, SC). The strongest hurricane on record to hit the Carolinas, and the costliest hurricane in U.S. history up to that point, Hugo caused at least 21 deaths and produced a storm surge of 20.2 feet at Awendaw and 20.0 feet in Bull’s Bay, just north of Charleston. The surge was responsible for a large part of Hugo’s $18.7 billion in damage (2018 dollars).
Some Other Notable Landfalls in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Although it was one of the most deadly and destructive East Coast hurricanes on record, the New England Hurricane of September 21, 1938, which came ashore at Bellport, New York, was classified as a Category 3 at landfall. This rating was confirmed by an NHC reanalysis published in 2014.
The fast-moving “Long Island Express”, which arrived with little warning, destroyed or damaged more than 50,000 homes and killed 682 people.
Hurricane Fran was the most recent hurricane to strike North Carolina at Category 3 strength. It made landfall near Cape Fear on September 5, 1996, packing sustained winds of 115 mph. Fran caused at least 13 deaths and inflicted more than $2 billion in damage in North Carolina. The storm also produced extensive inland flooding as it moved north into Pennsylvania.
In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy had winds of only minimal hurricane strength when it pummeled the coasts of New Jersey and New York. Sandy peaked in the Northwest Atlantic as a large Category 2 storm, then was blocked from moving out to sea by an unusually strong ridge of high pressure.
Despite its relatively weak winds by the time of landfall, Sandy’s huge circulation pushed vast amounts of water into the concave coastline of the region.
The result was an unprecedented, devastating storm surge and coastal flooding across large parts of the New Jersey coast and the greater New York area. Sandy caused more than 150 direct and indirect U.S. fatalities, and it remains the fourth-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with damage estimated at $65 billion.
How Unusual is a Category 4 Atlantic Hurricane in the Midlatitudes?
Even if Florence didn’t make landfall, it would still be a noteworthy storm if it maintained Category 4 strength as predicted while moving north of latitude 30°N.
According to Philip Klotzbach (Colorado State University), a total of 26 Atlantic hurricanes since 1851 have pulled off at least some intervals of Category 4 strength while north of 30°N. The only three examples from the 21st century are Earl (2010), Ophelia (2011), and Nicole (2016).
After one day as a Category 4 storm, Earl weakened, making it to within 100 miles of Cape Hatteras as a Category 2 storm before turned northeast away from the coast.
Category 5 hurricanes are even more uncommon than Cat 4s in this part of the Atlantic. As shown above, no intervals of Category 5 strength are known to have occurred as far northeast as Florence’s projected track
How Does Climate Change Play into Higher-Latitude Hurricane Strength?
As Earth’s climate warms, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are increasing. This raises the odds that SSTs warm enough for strong hurricanes will occur farther away from the equator.
On its current track, Florence will be moving across SSTs on Wednesday and Thursday that are around 84 degrees Fahrenheit, or roughly 3 – 4 degrees above average for this time of year. This greatly increases the ability of a storm like Florence to maintain or increase its strength, especially because the unusual ocean warmth across this region extends some distance below the surface.
A 2014 study in the journal Nature led by James Kossin (NOAA/University of Wisconsin/CIMSS) found that globally, hurricanes have been reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator since the 1980s. This poleward shift in the latitude of maximum intensity has been about 33 miles per decade when averaged across the Northern Hemisphere and 39 miles in the Southern Hemisphere.
The shift, which is statistically significant in both hemispheres, appears to be linked to reduced wind shear at higher latitudes, and perhaps to the gradual expansion of the tropics as a result of long-term climate change.
The midlatitude blocking high that will be steering Florence toward the East Coast – and which may cause it to stall for days afterward – will be unusually large and strong for this time of year. Several researchers have linked the depletion of Arctic sea ice to a northward displacement of the jet stream and a greater likelihood of “stuck” weather patterns at midlatitudes.