Hurricane Florence was a tragic storm and an anomaly event. It is very difficult for decision-makers to make all of the right decisions. I also truly believe that most of them make the best decisions that they can but with weather there are often misinterpretations or lack of understanding of the information. On Monday, September 17th, the Durham and Orange County School Systems made the decision for a normal school day. This outraged many parents, staff, and onlookers.
The storm, at the time of writing, is a major hurricane (category 4) and is still on track to make landfall this week in North Carolina. Models also suggest that it may stall and cause a flood disaster. Evacuation orders have been given for over 1 million people in the coastal Carolinas and parts of Virginia. It is very unusual to have a storm this strong at the latitude of North Carolina, and a category 5 storm has never made landfall in the state.
This weekend I tweeted my concern about the potential impacts of Hurricane Florence later this week. Some guy chastised me for fear-mongering. I dismissed that as just typical Twitter posturing. I have spent my entire career as a meteorologist, at NASA and now as a University of Georgia professor, trying to combat weather hype and "social media-rology." If I say that I am worried about a storm with that level of aggressiveness, it looks to be a serious situation. I just told my family to alert people they know about Florence. Here are three reasons why I am so concerned.
Honestly, a small part of my answer to the question in the title is "I am not sure." However, the vast majority of me knows there is mix of necessary attention, social media hyperventilation, and curiosity whenever there is a hurricane in the Atlantic, especially one that reaches major hurricane status (category 3 or higher).