Friday, 21 September, 2018

WHAT’S HAPPENING: Hurricane Florence looms over East Coast

Hurricane Florence is gaining strength as it moves west Image Hurricane Florence is gaining strength as it moves west
Sherry Houston | 13 September, 2018, 16:24

Florence is forecast to make landfall near southeast North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane early Friday morning, "bringing extreme wind and sea conditions" reminiscent of a much stronger storm, meteorologists said.

As of 5:00 am (1100 GMT), Florence was a unsafe Category 4 hurricane packing sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Inland winds could lead to spotty power outages, but more extended outages lasting possibly for weeks are expected at the coast.

"The closer we get to Thursday and Friday, the better idea we'll have", said Gardner.

Nighttime winds have gone from 140mph (225kph) to 115mph (185kph), and further weakening is expected as Florence approaches the coast. More to come on this part of the forecast.

"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989. "I want to get them as far away as possible".

Hurricane Florence has officially caught our attention due to a shift in the storm trajectory.

While a third added: 'Looks like a hard pounding... they are really going more than a few inches.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's centre reaching the coast Friday.

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

Officials can't overstate the potential danger the storm could bring, with the National Weather Service recently saying Florence will likely be the "storm of a lifetime" for the Carolina coast.

Downpours and flooding would be especially severe, lasting for days, if the storm stalls over land. Its wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land. "The biggest hazard that we're anxious about is storm surge", Long said.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

The storm surge along the coast alone is expected to flood thousands of homes and businesses, Cooper said.

North Carolina's governor issued what he called a first-of-its-kind mandatory evacuation order for North Carolina's fragile barrier islands from one end of the coast to the other. In Virginia, officials have evacuated one state prison, though local jails in the affected area are planning to keep inmates in place after stockpiling food and fuel, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The GFS model has 20 or so inches of rain falling over the next couple of days and you can see how that rain accumulates over time.

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