Hurricane Florence closes in on U.S. east coast

Cristina Cross
September 15, 2018

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and unsafe rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 140mph to 110mph which reduced the hurricane's power from Category 4 to Category 2.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the South Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

Like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Florence is expected to slow significantly when it reaches the coast, allowing the storm to dump a catastrophic amount of rain in the Carolinas.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that "disaster is at the doorstep", and "tens of thousands" of buildings may be flooded.

"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you". The state said it was seeing at least three times the normal traffic volume on I-26.

Emergency workers monitor hurricane progress at the Emergency operations centre in Wilmington, North Carolina.

It said the hurricane was about 520 miles (820km) southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Wednesday. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday.

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It is unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were urged to evacuate. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal followed suit on Wednesday.

Axios: "The ties between Hurricane Florence and climate change" - "Hurricane Florence is a unique Atlantic hurricane, projected to stall out after hitting land and forecast to dump upwards of 2 feet of rain on several states, much like Hurricane Harvey did in Texas past year".

The lingering storm could bring days of heavy rains, which could spark intense floods from SC to Virginia.

"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. Life-threatening storms are expected across large portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.

The shift south and west will encompass more of SC and western North Carolina. There will be no lane reversals in those counties.

Emergency preparations in SC now include more than 2,100 of the state's National Guard soldiers. Parts of North Carolina could get 40 inches (1 meter) of rain.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. He adds, "Businesses in Myrtle Beach are to have operations ceased and secured by 5 this afternoon".

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