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Florence was the wettest storm in more than half a century, behind Harvey

Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 16:17:51-04

A woman holds a young girl’s hand as they walk down a road flooded by Hurricane Florence in Pollocksville, North Carolina, on September 16, 2018. – Catastrophic floods raised the threat of dam breaks and landslides across the southeastern United States, prolonging the agony caused by a killer hurricane that has left more than a dozen people dead and billions of dollars in damage. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Four days’ worth of rainfall and up to 3 feet of rain placed Hurricane Florence right behind Harvey as the second wettest storm in history.

Kenneth Kunkel, a meteorologist from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies put Florence into historical perspective by comparing it with some of the most catastrophic storms since 1949.

“Florence’s rainfall was unprecedented for eastern North Carolina and make it one of the largest on record for the entire United States for areas up to 20,000 square miles,” his report said.

Florence’s heavy rainfall in just a few days also was categorized as a “one in a thousand year rainfall event” by the National Weather Service.

Kunkell ranked four-day rainfalls across 14,000 square miles and 20,000 square miles, both for which Harvey took the first spot. Florence ranked second across 14,000 square miles, but seventh across 20,000 square miles.

The brunt of rainfall from Florence fell across the border of eastern North and South Carolina. The area in white represents areas where over 20+ was observed on radar during the life of the storm.

Following Harvey at 20,000 square miles was Hurricane Georges which stretched across the central Gulf Coast. The two Louisiana floods of 2016, one in March and one in August, ranked third and and fourth.

Meteorologists say there’s a reason why there’s there’s been so many extreme weather events in the past couple of years.

“The fact that so many of the rainiest events that we have measured over the last 70 years have come in the past handful of years is not just by random chance,” CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

When averaging four-day rainfall totals over areas of 14,000 square miles, Hurricane Florence ranks second, behind only Hurricane Harvey, according to a report.

“More frequent, high-intensity rainfall events are one of the most well-understood and predicted impacts of global warming. As the planet warms, the atmosphere can hold more water vapor that it can then rain down during storms.”