WILMINGTON, N.C. – Hurricane Florence is plodding a dangerous track toward the southeast coast of the United States. Tuesday afternoon, hurricane and storm surge warnings were issued from north of Charleston, S.C. to almost the North Carolina/Virginia border. Officials say additional watches and warnings will be issued as the system moves closer.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warn the storm will produce a life-threatening storm surge, produce major inland flooding and could bring catastrophic damage to the coast, especially as the storm slows to a crawl on approach to the Carolina coastline, as currently forecast. Peak impacts are expected to begin Thursday midday and continue through at least Saturday.
The forecast track of Florence could impact the operations of several hockey teams at all levels; the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League; Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals and South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL; Fayetteville Marksmen and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The Sin Bin has reached out to some of the organizations near the Atlantic coast to see what their preparations are.
According to Shawn Bednard, Director of Communications for the Fayetteville Marksmen, says the team has taken some initial precautions but are continuing to monitor the track forecasts, but continues to operate business-as-usual for the time being. Crown Coliseum, home of the Marksmen, is being prepped to be converted to a disaster relief location should it be needed.
Evacuations are currently underway in the areas impacted, including in Charleston, S.C., which is home to the South Carolina Stingrays. Team President Rob Concannon tells The Sin Bin that their offices are closed for the rest of the week in order to give staff the necessary time to make preparations and evacuate if needed.
“We hope all of our fans stay safe and the storm turns north and out to sea,” Concannon said.
In Norfolk, tidal and rainwater flooding are likely to be the biggest threats from Florence. Alex Reed, Director of Communications with the Norfolk Admirals, says preparations are underway in the Tidewater:
“Starting today, the City of Norfolk has given all city employees time off to prepare and/or evacuate from the storm, therefore all arena staff is not in today,” Reed said. “The big issue here is flooding because there are so many low-lying areas. Several of the team’s employees live in high-risk flood zones and the team has allowed them to evacuate to get out of harm’s way. There are a few of us who live in lower-risk areas that are in the office today and we are monitoring the storm.”
We talk about Hurricane Florence and more with legendary weatherman James Spann on the latest edition of the Inside the SPHL Podcast!