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Expand chart
Data: NOAA HURDAT2, National Hurricane Center; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios

Hurricane Florence is a highly unusual storm, not just because of its intensity and size, but also the journey it's taking toward the Carolina coastline.

The big picture: As this historical track map shows, few other major hurricanes have hit North Carolina — and none has followed as bizarre a path as Florence is expected to take.

The details: The storm is approaching the coast at a 90-degree angle, moving southeast to northwest, which is unusual. And because of a collapse in the atmospheric steering currents, Florence is going to be set adrift. It may slowly spin southwest, parallel to the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts. Eventually, it may visit Georgia, too.

The implications: This track will maximize the storm surge flooding along the North Carolina coast, with the National Hurricane Center projecting a maximum surge of 9 to 13 feet between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout, N.C.

  • Parts of South Carolina will first see strong offshore winds as the center of the storm moves to the north.
  • Then, perhaps suddenly, the flow will turn onshore, with floodwaters rushing in — trapping anyone who had gone near the coast to see the tide pushed out to sea in the storm's early stages.
  • The track will also ensure that this hurricane dumps potentially "catastrophic" amounts of rain on inland areas, with upwards of 3 feet forecast to fall.

The bottom line: Every hurricane presents its own hazards. Few, however, move as strangely as Florence will, while at the same time being as large and powerful. This presents communication challenges in convincing people to leave threatened areas, since they may not be used to dealing with a nearly stalled-out hurricane or one that backslides from northeast to southwest.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.