EASTON — Hurricane Florence has been downgraded from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, but wind and rain from the system still will affect the Mid-Shore early next week.

The predicted path of the storm has changed, shifting north after making landfall in the Carolinas. As the hurricane moves inland, it is expected to lose intensity. Winds are predicted to extend out 195 miles from the center of the storm.

As of noon Thursday, the eye of the hurricane was less than 150 miles from Wilmington, N.C.

Talbot County residents are encouraged to continue monitoring the storm and can stay up to date by registering for the Talbot Citizen Alert at www.talbotdes.org to receive important weather and safety information.

“The current storm track is predicting that the eye of the storm will remain on the coast for 24 hours, which will cause significant damage and catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas,” Talbot County Emergency Management Coordinator Geneva Harrison said. “Talbot County still has potential to see minor tidal flooding due to high tides and added rainfall Thursday evening into the weekend.”

Residual rain and strong winds from Hurricane Florence are expected to affect the Mid-Shore by Monday. Wind speeds are predicted at 15 mph, and rain is expected until Tuesday.

Ground saturation also is an area of concern for emergency services staff, as the Mid-Shore has experienced significant tidal flooding as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast. Caroline County Emergency Services Director Bryan Ebling said over-saturated areas were at risk for damage.

“Given our already saturated soils, prolonged rain and higher winds could cause downed trees and power outages,” he said. “This would also produce the chance of tidal and freshwater flooding.”

According to the National Weather Service, soil moisture in the Mid-Shore reached around 600 millimeters in August. The earliest measurement showed the saturation to be unchanged.

“I think that we would be at more at a height of worry if this was a major wind event. ... We’re always worried with downed trees and things like that, as far as ground saturation,” Harrison said. “If anything, we might see a couple high tides that look like Sunday and Monday.”

Rainfall in the area is about a quarter inch from exceeding the historical monthly average, which is listed at 4.01 inches. The current amount of precipitation to date in September is 3.77 inches. In August, the area received 1.63 inches of precipitation, whereas the monthly average is listed at 4.27 inches.

High tides are predicted to continually affect flooding as the storm approaches the Bay Hundred area. High tides are listed as 8:41 a.m. and 9:42 p.m. for Saturday and 9:33 a.m. and 10:39 p.m. Sunday.

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