Hurricane Florence Warning for Grape Growers

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Dear Grape Community,

Many of you have asked me over the last few days what to do to prepare for the incoming Hurricane. My advice is as a general rule, if you live close to the coast in Eastern North Carolina, and you are close to harvest, pick as many grapes as possible before Thursday afternoon. Especially close to the Coast, it is likely that you will encounter high winds and a lot of rain. The high winds might be a threat to your trellis systems. In the Piedmont and Triangle area, winds will be slower, but heavy rains are expected. Tall current is expected at the Coast.

If you and your family are ordered to evacuate, please follow those orders! It is for your own safety.

Here an update on Hurricane Florence:

A. The Situation

Hurricane Florence is approaching the Carolina Coast. Currently, it is a Category 4 Hurricane and will make landfall sometime between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning at the Carolina Coast.

Please see Figure 1 – 3 for current prediction models on path and strength

Image of hurricane intensity chart

Figure 1: Predicted strength of Hurricane Florence. Most prediction models keep it in Category 4 for the next 72-84 hours. The hurricane will weaken once it has made landfall. 

Image of predicted path chart

Figure 2: Predicted Path: Almost all models predict the Hurricane to make landfall at the Carolina Coast. 

Image of 5-day cone chart

Figure 3: The Hurricane will make landfall most likely early Friday morning at the shore of North Carolina.

B. Expected Weather


Please see the forecast for wind strength in Figure 4. Especially Thursday Afternoon and Friday Morning, winds can be up to 50 mph in several regions in NC, at the shore even more. Image of Thursday wind chartImage of Friday wind chart

Image of Saturday wind chart Imageof Sunday wind chart

Figure 4: Predicted Wind strengths from Thursday afternoon to Sunday


Please see the forecast for Rain in Figure 5. Some regions can experience more than a foot of rain in 24-36 hours. Flash floodings are possible through the region from the East Coast to the Mountains.

Image of Wednesday wind chart Image of Thursday wind chart Image of Friday wind chart Image of Saturday wind chart Image of Sunday wind chart

Figure 5: Predicted Rain possibility from Wednesday to Sunday

C. What to Do?

First and foremost, you and your family should be safe. Prepare yourself, have enough food and water at home, have batteries, flashlights and a radio. Please visit our Disaster Information Center to gain updates and information on how to prepare for the incoming Hurricane.

If you are in an affected area and you are close to harvest, you better harvest now! The Piedmont region also will be affected, mainly by heavy rains.

Some growers asked me if it would make sense to thin out the canopy. Since this is also my first Category 4 Hurricane, I can’t give an experienced advise. My guess is, that, if you have the time to do it, and you are already through your harvest, it definitely would help to reduce the possibility for the strong winds to damage your trellis systems and your vines.

Please stay safe over the next days and don’t hesitate to contact me or any of your county agents at any time.