Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

Hurricane Florence to deliver 'life-threatening' surges, rain despite downgrade

Hurricane Florence to deliver 'life-threatening' surges, rain despite downgrade

But Hill said many residents still remained in their homes, possibly hoping to ride out the hurricane.

The outer rain bands of the massive storm will continue moving over the Outer Banks, lashing the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that are a popular tourist destination.

Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the USA southeast.

Forecasters downgraded Florence, once a Category 4, to a risky Category 2 hurricane late Wednesday as the storm made its way toward the Carolinas, where some residents could see storm surges as high as 13 feet.

The Miami-based center said in an update at 11 p.m. that the storm's eye was about 50 miles south of Morehead, City, North Carolina. Storm winds could range from 80 to 195 miles per hour, officials said.

As Hurricane Florence churned toward the North Carolina coast, Gov. Roy Cooper tripled down on a warning he has been issuing for days: Get out of this storm's way.

The centre said the storm would dump as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain along coastal areas of the Carolinas, as well as up to 10 inches in southwestern Virginia.

-Get out: 1.7 million people under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders, and more than 10 million people live in places now under storm watches or warnings. If you're heading to the beach just be careful of some rip currents and rough surf along the south facing coasts.

"It's going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,"' said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground.

"This is a very unsafe storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground. "Don't play games with it. It's a big one".

Many businesses are closed and boarded up particularly in the Carolinas which are facing the most serious
Many businesses are closed and boarded up particularly in the Carolinas which are facing the most serious

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. As of Thursday, almost a dozen airports have shut down, with more than 1,000 flights being canceled.

Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, rubbish bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1100 trucks.

Business is booming: Though Chef & the Farmer is closed until Hurricane Florence passes, the men who worked Wednesday to cover the restaurant's doors and windows with plywood are seeing plenty of business. The power companies expect millions of people to be without power for days. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Models agree that excessive amounts of rain will fall in southeastern North Carolina.

Eduardo Corta cuts plywood boards to put on his mobile home a day before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

Florence's intensity has diminished since it roared ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? "If you're blowing 100 or 120 miles per hour on homes, they're going to start to deteriorate".

"But I'm staying", she said. A high-pressure ridge over the Central and Eastern US is said to be blocking the storm's further movement along its original vectors, though it could still curve again once over land. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.

Usually when a storm approaches the coast, forecasters can tell with ever-increasing accuracy who will get walloped.

Hurricane Florence creating 80-foot tall waves?
The tropical storm is tracking to the west at 20 miles per hour with top winds of 60 miles per hour with higher gusts. Latest Isaac tropical storm image from Harry Halstrom, Pond Hill forecaster.

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