Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Tropical Storm Isaac continues to weaken as it approaches the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Isaac continues to weaken as it approaches the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Florence is becoming a "better organised" weather system that is likely to strengthen into a hurricane late Saturday, weather forecasters said.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 3 storm on Wednesday as peak winds eased to 125 miles per hour.

The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday.

The rest of South and North Carolina as well as southwest Virginia may see up to 24 inches of rain. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimeters). A few hearty locals gathered at Cape Fear Wine and Beer pub in downtown Wilmington. "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".

If the European model is true or the overall trend persists, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said it "is exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?

"Protection of life is the absolute highest priority", he added. "We just want prayers from everyone".

"It's a very unsafe storm", Federal Emergency Management Authority administrator Jeff Byard said.

Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the United States, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas.

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Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

The slow-moving storm is expected to bring hurricane winds to America's east coast within 24 hours.

Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the Southeastern coast.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

Florence is also expected to lose speed and "hover" once it reaches the coast, which will intensify the impacts of its heavy rainfall and storm surges, Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), said in a Facebook Live update earlier today.

In addition, preparing for hurricane-force winds is different than for storm surge, he said.

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. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power was lost, and there were lines to get in on Thursday evening. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

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