Extreme Precipitation and Inland Flooding in the Carolinas: Impacts of the 2018 Hurricane Season

Authors: Montana A Eck*, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: meteorology, hazards, climate, extreme precipitation, hurricane impacts
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Although heavy emphasis is placed on coastal impacts of landfalling tropical cyclones, some of the most extensive damage can actually occur hundreds of miles away from landfall as a result of inland flooding. Such was the case with the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season, when Tropical Storm Alberto, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Michael produced record amounts of rainfall and historic flooding across the Carolinas. Following Alberto, portions of the Blue Ridge mountains exceeded 400% of normal monthly rainfall. In September, the slow movement of Florence allowed for 40+ inches of precipitation to accumulate across the coastal plain of North and South Carolina. The arrival of Michael in October exacerbated the severity of flooding across the region. Especially hard-hit communities of the southern Appalachian Mountains and eastern North Carolina were further isolated by associated landslides, debris flows, and wind damage. This paper investigates the meteorological conditions responsible for the extreme rainfall seen in the Carolinas, as well as the hydrologic mechanisms that worsened flooding across the region. The results of this work are aimed at placing the extreme precipitation associated with the 2018 hurricane season in a historic and climatological context.

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