Florence Slows, Weakens Over Islands; Still Major Hurricane
Florence Slows, Weakens Over Islands; Still Major Hurricane
A zoomed in image of the eye of Hurricane Florence. Image NASA ESA A. Gerst
14 September, 2018, 15:00
The outer reaches of Hurricane Florence began lashing coastal North Carolina with heavy winds and flooded roads on Thursday ahead of an expected landfall that will bring walls of water and lingering downpours to parts of the US East Coast.
Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet (4m) have been forecast in some areas when the monster storm eventually makes landfall in North and SC. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind does. Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey.
Palm-trees blow in the wind as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 13, 2018. Officials say the flood stage for the river is 13 feet, and it is now past 9 and rising steadily.
Just as Hurricane Florence closes in on the Southeast, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled - meaning far more people will get blasted with winds topping 73 miles per hour.
The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Wednesday night, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday, NHC said. The center of the hurricane will remain close to the coast Friday, "with much of the circulation still over water".
Even if you know nothing about hurricanes, an unavoidable sense of doom and destruction overtakes you when you look at this image of Hurricane Florence as it moves inexorably toward North and SC.
By late Thursday afternoon, the Carolina coasts can expect winds stronger than 80 miles per hour. It could then head west and southwest. "You have the rain, you have the storm surge".
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. Isolated areas could get 40 inches. Hurricane Helene was expected to weaken over the eastern Atlantic.
Still, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says there is nothing "minor" about this hurricane. The top winds from the storm were recorded at 106 miles per hour in Cape Lookout.
Florence should continue losing strength as it menders along the coast, weakening further as the storm travels across inland SC on Saturday, the weather service said.
Separately, Toronto-Dominion Bank said it will close 17 of its 61 branches in SC and two of 14 in North Carolina.
At 7 a.m., Florence was centered just 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Dresner said there was also a brief tornado warning Thursday night. "Waffle House has vowed that they'll try to keep the place open for as long as the powers on". He said only about 300,000 of the 700,000 people who live in the mandatory evacuation zone have left.
Even the thousands of emergency workers on scene - ranging from power workers to National Guardsmen to cops, many of them volunteers from across the country - could only sit and wait for Florence to do its worst before they could do their best. "They have boarded up a couple of windows".
US carriers were also waiting to see what impact Florence could have on airports near Washington and in northern Virginia. Two amphibious Navy ships are on standby to respond and provide disaster relief after Florence moves through.
Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm makes its way slowly inland. The winds had been as high as 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.
Yesterday, Dr Greg Postel, the network's hurricane specialist, said three feet (0.9m) of water was enough to knock people off their feet, potentially carry cars away and flood lower levels of buildings.
"This threat will continue into next week", said Jeff Stern, Virginia's state coordinator of emergency management, during a Thursday evening news conference. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
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National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday, adding that life-threatening storm surge and rainfall were still expected. Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened. The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland.
The photo shows the churning storm, which according to Arnold, was later joined by Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Helene. It is estimated that the wind speed in the eye of the hurricane reaches more than 200 kilometers per hour.
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A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore. It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious .
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Hurricane Florence slams Carolina coast
Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the United States eastern seaboard in decades. The Carolinas will bear the brunt of the storm, but as it moves inland, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland will also be hit.