Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Florence's winds and rain begin lashing US Carolinas coast

Hurricane Florence's winds and rain begin lashing US Carolinas coast

Large and unsafe, Hurricane Florence is drawing closer to the coast of the Carolinas, where it threatens to become the most intense storm to strike the region in at least 25 years, since Hugo.

Forecasters also say the storm surge - or wall of water - that the hurricane's winds and forward movement push on shore, could cause normally dry areas to be flooded by up to 4 meters of water moving inland. More than one million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of North and SC and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

As of 8:00 am (1200 GMT), the eye of the storm was 170 miles (275 km) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 12 mph.

Despite the fact that the hurricane has been downgraded to Category 2, the 80 miles per hour winds and coastal flooding will still cause significant damage throughout the southeast.

That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

FEMA has warned that while downgraded, the storm will still generate life threatening storm surge and rainfall in North and SC.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is foreboding in his assessment Hurricane Florence.

Members of law enforcement work with the National Guard to direct traffic onto US Highway 501 as Hurricane Florence approaches the US east coast.

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly.

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People in areas vulnerable to a unsafe hurricane have left or are fleeing ahead of the storm's expected Friday or Saturday landfall.

"The combination of a risky storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", according to the National Hurricane Center.

The full impact of storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.

So we could have two landfalls - one around Wilmington and then one near Myrtle Beach or even south of there.

While it is extremely likely that the eastern Carolinas will be hardest hit by the storm Thursday into Friday (local time), the storm's direction becomes far less certain over the weekend and next week. We woke up today and saw the storm is looking less scary!

Current paths show Florence making landfall near Wilmington, N.C., before tracking inland.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm's strength should continue through Thursday.

This shift to the south certainly brings Charlotte into play for much heavier rainfall, and I think that's going to be the biggest issue that we're going to have to deal with in the Charlotte area is soaking heavy rains that could fall not only over a day but maybe several days after landfall.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, which are expected to experience tropical storm conditions and rainfall amounts of up to 6 inches.

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