Hurricane Florence maintains strength as it nears coast

Heather Diaz
September 14, 2018

Measurements by an Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane indicate that maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 110 miles per hour, with higher gusts. Storm surge, the rise in seawater above normally dry land at the coast, could rise a story high. It's not clear yet where the storm will park, but local forecasts have predicted some areas could receive 30-40 inches of rain depending on where the storm sits.

As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph.

Old Dominion's football game at Charlotte (North Carolina) has been moved up to Thursday because of Hurricane Florence.

"We've seen fatalities and deaths from tropical storms, from Category 1 storms and from Category 2 storms", Becker said.

But between evacuations and storm shutter installations, NASA and NOAA are keeping people informed and entertained.

"While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size", the NHC said in its latest bulletin.

It is predicted to deliver tropical-storm-force winds by noon Thursday to North Carolina's coast, and hurricane-force winds and risky storm surges by late Thursday or early Friday.

Those areas are expected to experience tropical storm conditions and rainfall amount of up to 8 inches, and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands facing possible isolated amounts on 4 inches.

"These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction [of] the storm's motion", the agency said.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina and 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

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For a swath of the North Carolina shore from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, the storm surge could range from 9-13 feet, the NHC said. One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area.

Florence, though downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained unsafe and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"This is a very risky storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.

At least 800 flights have been cancelled or grounded due to the storm's expected landfall, CNN reported. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they had sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

"Several million will probably lose power".

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the storm with his dog Canelo. "A lot of rain", said Maj.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal followed suit on Wednesday. In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.

And while some people may think that Florence doesn't possess the same punch Harvey did since it's only a Category 2 storm, there is a comparison: Sandy.

Though most residents of North and SC and other areas in the hurricane's path have abided by the mandatory evacuation order, Kourounis jokes that the Waffle House is still open. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.

"If you're going to leave. you should leave now because time is running out", McMaster said on Thursday.

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