'Extremely dangerous' Florence strengthening on approach to US coast

Cristina Cross
September 12, 2018

While people on the ground are preparing for floods, high winds and surging waves, satellites and astronauts in orbit are looking down on the storm from above, and the views are startling.

On its current track, Florence is expected to slam South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia the hardest.

Forecast models have said that several feet of heavy rain could cause flooding well inland from the coast.

Hazel caused 95 deaths and damages of $281 million in the USA, 100 deaths and $100 million in damages in Canada, and an estimated 400 to 1,000 deaths in Haiti.

"The power is going to be off for weeks", warned Long, adding that the hazards will be statewide.

In this September 24, 1999, file photo, employees of Murphy Family Farms along with friends and neighbors, float a group of dead pigs down a flooded road on Rabon Maready's farm near Beulaville, N.C. The hogs drowned from the floodwaters of the NE Cape Fear River after heavy rains from Hurricane Floyd flooded the area.

The Trump administration drew criticism past year for its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, but received better reviews for its handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma.

The Marine Corps, with its large concentration of people in North Carolina, could be especially affected.

As of the 5am update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts 160-170 miles per hour. Some 3000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

That storm is blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the self-governing USA commonwealth where local officials have criticized the Trump administration for neglecting the Caribbean island in wake of the hurricane.

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Total insured losses were estimated to be about $1.3 billion. Charles Mullen, 81, a longtime resident of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, said he had ridden out many storms and that most locals were planning to stay unless Florence took aim at Hatteras.

The bloated carcasses of hundreds of thousands of hogs, chickens and other drowned livestock bobbed in a nose-stinging soup of fecal matter, pesticides, fertilizer and gasoline so toxic that fish flopped helplessly on the surface to escape it. Rescue workers smeared Vick's Vapo-Rub under their noses to try to numb their senses against the stench. Flooding caused 50 of the 56 US deaths attributed to Floyd and much of the damage, which was estimated at up to $6 billion.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia to inbound vessels greater than 500 tons and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports.

The hurricane warning was issued for issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. Like Floyd, it caused widespread flooding. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also warns that Florence is a "bigger" and more "ferocious" storm than 1989's Hurricane Hugo, qualifying this as the worst hurricane the East Coast has seen in decades.

For now, expect another afternoon of scattered storms with highs in the upper 80s, much like Monday.

Rainfall of up to 35 inches is expected in some places.

Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC.

The exact path and timing of the storm can change.

The hurricane is gaining pace as it heads for the Carolinas, where 1.7million people have been told to evacuate.

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