‘Once in a lifetime’ hurricane weakens, begins lashing eastern US

Cesar Mills
September 17, 2018

"We've been here for two days", said 68-year-old Pat White, who evacuated her home in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to the nearby high school. The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that".

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a crawl - sometimes it was moving no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

Hurricane Florence is not expected to make landfall until Friday morning but residents in coastal areas are already losing power as gusts lash the eastern edge of North Carolina.

With more than 1,500 commercial airline flights in and out of the Carolinas canceled - and potentially many more to come - even the skies above sat empty, except for Florence's foreboding cloud cover and rapidly strengthening rain.

It is forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday Friday. "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".

Traffic patterns indicate that many people are leaving the Carolinas, however. The Outer Banks of North Carolina took the initial brunt Thursday afternoon, with parts of Highway 12 - the main road that runs through Ocracoke and Hatteras islands - flooding and becoming impassable.

That's why Hurricane Florence is still an incredibly risky storm - it will contain extreme amounts of water, both coming up from the ocean in storm surge, and falling from the sky in heavy rain bands.

"There is going to be a lot of rain".

"Now we just have to figure out how to get hot coffee", said Mary Holland, standing on the porch of her home that was built in 1889.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

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A mother from Asheboro, North Carolina, was advised to leave the hotel where she'd been vacationing with her family, CBS News reported. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in Virginia and the Carolinas.

About 1.7 million residents across the states' coastlines are under mandatory evacuation orders, and tens of thousands of hospital patients and prison inmates have been moved out of Florence's path.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the U.S. capital Washington.

Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of the nation's capital, has declared a state of emergency.

Utility crews had largely stopped stringing power lines during the peak of the storm and said they would not resume restoring power until wind speeds subsided and flood waters receded, which could take several areas in the hardest-hit areas. Hurricane force winds extended 80 miles from the centre of the storm, while tropical storm force winds extended up to 195 miles. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

According to the National Weather Service, storm surges occur when hurricane winds blow along the surface of the ocean and cause water to build up as the storm gets closer to the shoreline.

Some of the forecasts called for a storm surge of nine to 16 feet, and Harvey wondered where all of that water would collect.

Young and his team of scientists including Katie Peek and Blair Tormey built the database which tracks all storm surge levels since the 1800s. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are the early warnings of what's to come", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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