National Hurricane Center/NWS
In the lead up to severe weather, it's important to listen to local experts with experience in watching and predicting potentially dangerous storms. And if danger heads your way, residents affected by the storm should absolutely take heed of local forecasts for your specific area.
But for the next few days as Florence heads our way, we'll all be watching four daily updates from the National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Starting each day at 5 a.m. ET, NWS issues official updates every six hours. With each update, we get a new probable storm track based on the most current data, including predictions for the 1-3 and 4-5 day impacts of the storm that experts use to make decisions about official watches and warnings.
You can find those updates at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m. at hurricanes.gov
The forecast cone we've all gotten so well acquainted with in recent years is created using a combination of current forecast data and storm tracks from the previous five years. The NHC stresses, "It is also important to realize that a tropical cyclone is not a point. Their effects can span many hundreds of miles from the center."
So, even if you're not in the cone that does not mean that you won't feel the impact of the storm. These storms are huge, people. (The NHC has a detailed explainer
of how it compiles those graphical forecasts.)
Again, even as you follow storm estimates in the days leading up to severe weather, there is no substitute for also listening to local experts processing all the information coming in about local weather. Check out our Twitter list
for a curated group of Charleston weather experts and keep checking Charleston City Paper for more updates.