Putting the enormity of Hurricane Florence into perspective
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 3:39PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 13, 2018 10:55PM EDT
Millions of people are in the path of Hurricane Florence as the massive category 2 storm closes in on the Carolina coast on Thursday afternoon.
Florence is forecast to hit land on Friday and the U.S. National Weather Service predicts some areas will see more than 750 millimetres of rain.
HOW BIG IS THE STORM?
Overall, Florence is about 644 kilometres wide (400 miles).
Its hurricane-force winds extend up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) from the centre, and its tropical storm-force winds extend up to 315 kilometres (195 miles).
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO HUGO?
In was 1989 when Hurricane Hugo pummeled the Carolinas, causing tremendous destruction -- killing 21 people in the U.S. and 29 in the Caribbean and leaving behind an estimated US$8 billion in damage.
According to meteorologist Eric Holthaus, even though Florence's winds might not be as strong, Florence could be much worse than Hugo. Hit play on Holthaus's video below.
MAKINGS OF A MONSTER
Why is Florence so large?
Because it has it all, including: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes; favourable wind patterns; higher sea levels that exacerbate storm surge;cloud cover that could encompass multiple states; and an unusual combination of other weather systems that likely will stall Florence when it hits land, allowing it to sit for days and dump huge amounts of rain.
WARNING FROM SPACE
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst noted that Florence is so big, they could only photograph it with a super wide-angle lens from the International Space Station. Gerst pleaded with people living in the area to heed evacuation orders, warning them there is a "nightmare coming for you."
Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you. #Horizons pic.twitter.com/ovZozsncfh— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) September 12, 2018
This is why the big picture matters, and listening to the official evacuation orders. These two photos are the same - just cropped differently. Please stay safe down there! #HurricaneFlorence #Horizons pic.twitter.com/V42GFkjbLi— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) September 12, 2018
FLORENCE NOT ALONE
The National Oceanic and Atmospherice Administration (NOAA) notes that Florence isn’t alone in the “busy” Atlantic Ocean. Hurrican Helen, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Subtropical Storm Joyce are all churning. Here’s an image taken from NASA’s EPIC camera on an NOAA satellite, from a million miles away.