Winds die down, but Florence's heavy rains continue

Massive storm now classified as tropical depression

By Bryan Norcross - Hurricane Specialist

MIAMI - Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but the misery continues in the Carolinas.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac are now a disorganized low-pressure area in the Caribbean. There is a brief opportunity for it to get more organized again.

Florence has much weaker winds now -- top winds are estimated at 35 mph. Movement is westward at 8 mph. The weaker top winds mean it has been downgraded to a tropical depression. This status is set only by the highest wind speed thought to be in the circulation.

The rain over North Carolina and parts of South Carolina continues, however. Generally, it is much lighter, but there are still embedded downpours, and occasional tornadoes are still possible. The rain will only gradually taper off over the next few days as Florence moves west and then north. The flooding threat will follow Florence up the mountains of the eastern U.S.

Here are the key messages from the National Hurricane Center on Florence:
  • Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into west-central Virginia and far-eastern West Virginia through early this week, as Florence continues to move slowly inland. In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina into southwest Virginia.
  • Large swells affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast and the northwestern and central Bahamas will continue this week, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents.

The remnants of Isaac are a broad low-pressure area southeast of Jamaica -- a moisture surge with a loose circulation. There is a chance that it could still redevelop into an organized system, but that window is fairly short. In a couple of days, the upper winds will become hostile, and the existing broad circulation will be disrupted.

Most likely ex-Isaac will simply die out. We may notice its departure by late in the week as a moisture increase over South Florida.

Elsewhere, there is nothing of consequence expected in the tropics this week, except for Tropical Storm Helene, the remnants of which will impact Ireland and Scotland Monday and Tuesday.

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