Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Carolina coast battening down, boarding up as hurricane nears

Carolina coast battening down, boarding up as hurricane nears

In the 11 p.m. ET advisory, Florence was 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 17 mph.

The hurricane was about 470 miles (755 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach SC, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.

Motorists streamed inland on roads converted to one-way evacuation routes as about 1.7 million people in three USA states were warned to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a hair-raising storm taking dead aim at the Carolinas with 130mph winds and potentially ruinous rains.

National Aeronautics and space administration (NASA) revealed the extent of hurricane Florence, which is close to the coast of the United States. "We want to make sure people understand that people should not ride Hurricane Florence out".

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC, where some areas could see as much as 40 inches (1m) of rain, to Virginia.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper told locals not to "bet your life on riding out a monster", with ferocious winds set to batter the shoreline.

Authorities in New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people that dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people had to be rescued from floods.

Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

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The shift south and west will encompass more of SC and western North Carolina. "This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding". Onshore winds (and obviously very strong near the Outer Banks) are expected since this area will be north of the storm, so unfavorable surf conditions are likely for the majority of the area. The hurricane center predicts a "heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic for hundreds of miles".

"That's good news and bad news", he said.

Stewart added, "We're going to have a fairly stable, powerful hurricane with the potential for some additional slow strengthening over about the next 24 hours".

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million more live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night. At that level, it would still cause "devastating damage", according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Swell from Florence continues to impact much the East Coast today.

In Wilmington, the fire department is urging people to prepare for at least seven days of hardship, collecting water and nonperishable foods. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

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