Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas as it nears landfall

Florence path Hurricane Florence weakens but deluges Carolinas ahead of landfall
Charles Bowen | 14 September, 2018, 15:45

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water.

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet".

The centre of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast on Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday, enough time to drop as much as one metre of rain in some places, according to the National Hurricane Center. On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were "able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space".

Hurricane Florence has weakened somewhat early Thursday as its outer bands approach the North Carolina coast, but weather officials cautioned that the storm will still bring life-threatening conditions.

"All interests from SC into the Mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials", the Hurricane Center said.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Thursday evening and was moving west at only 6 miles per hour (9 km/h). "The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed".

One forecast from weather-tracking website Weathermodels.com predicts that over the next week, the Carolinas could see as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said.

Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018.

At least 150,000 people were without power in North Carolina early Friday with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to utility companies.

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North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as 3 kilometers (2 miles). Surrounding states like Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and even Pennsylvania will receive heavy rain at the end of the weekend and into next week as well.

The Pentagon has dispatched two ships and a Marine unit offshore to provide help if needed.

Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by.

Numerous communities throughout the region have issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach, vulnerable on a North Carolina barrier island, agreed that those who refused to leave were now on their own.

"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.

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