Storm chaser records Florence battering Carolina coast

Pauline Gross
September 15, 2018

The storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am (1115 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said.

High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro in North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches of rain, forecasters said.

The storm's maximum sustained winds held at about 90 miles per hour, and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore.

Hurricane Florence was making a marathon landfall in North Carolina early Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain. But Florence's forward movement had slowed to a crawl, and it piled on the rain in a siege that could go on all weekend long. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, South Carolina on September 12, 2018.

More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

None of the people rescued were injured.

The storm's center was about 50 miles south of Morehead City at around 11 p.m. EST (0300 GMT Friday).

A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence. Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts.

As the storm widens - and lingers - Florence has increased potential to produce tornadoes, flash flooding, mudslides and a catastrophic storm surge.

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It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina. Emergency workers monitor hurricane progress at the Emergency operations centre in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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Warning of looming storm surges of nine to 12 feet, he urged residents to take the storm seriously no matter the category, saying "this is all about the water, anyway".

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

- The number of North Carolina residents without power is now more than 480,000, according to North Carolina Emergency Management. Winds will be increasing in the Piedmont Triad tonight and tomorrow with some of the wind gusts possibly approaching tropical storm strength. Forecasters warned of "catastrophic" freshwater flooding along the Carolinas.

Rivers are rising on the north side of Hurricane Florence as the storm swirls counter-clockwise, pushing a surge of ocean water far in from the coast.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

Hurricane Florence is set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months' worth of rain in two or three days.

The storm weakened to a Category 1 storm Thursday night, but it has left hundreds of thousands without power nonetheless.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

The hurricane is moving towards land with maximum sustained wind speeds.

WIND: Tropical storm conditions will continue through Saturday morning in portions of the warning area along the coast and also over large portions of eastern North Carolina and extreme eastern SC, with tropical storm force wind gusts spreading well inland.

Other reports by GizPress

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