While flying a drone over the completely flooded four-lane Interstate 40 on Monday, the North Carolina Highway Patrol spotted an unusual sight: A motorized boat leaving a large wake over the highway.
The storm formerly known as Florence — which hit North Carolina as a Hurricane last Friday and then proceeded to drop historic rainfall over much of the state — has brought catastrophic and deadly flooding to inland cities and coastal communities alike.
Florence has demolished rainfall records.
Previously, North Carolina’s rainfall record from a storm was 24 inches, set by Hurricane Floyd nearly twenty years ago. On Monday, the National Weather Service reported that nearly 36 inches fell on Elizabethtown, North Carolina. At least 11 other areas also broke the old record.
State Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker said via phone that the drone operations will continue over the highway as the agency works to identify flooded and troubled areas.
Baker was unsure, however, whether this particular boat was part of state reconnaissance efforts, or simply someone taking a bizarre boating trip down a U.S. highway.
Aside from the boat on the freeway, the Highway Patrol drone also spotted completely submerged vehicles and vast swathes of brown water inundating land well beyond the highway.
In cities well inland, like Fayetteville, North Carolina, the floodwaters are continuing to rise, even as the main remnants of the storm moved over the Mid-Atlantic states and into New England on Tuesday.
A hurricane that makes landfall is never good, but even worse is a slow-moving storm.
Atmospheric scientists found these tropical storms have slowed considerably since the 1950s, which gives the tempests ample time to flood major U.S. transportation arteries — and transform them into brown rivers.