Hurricane Florence from space

Cristina Cross
September 16, 2018

The storm is expected to make landfall on Friday, somewhere on North Carolina's coast, bringing heavy rains and damaging winds as far south as Georgia.

The US National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Florence maximum sustained winds were 115 miles per hour as any other regular Category 3 storm, on Wednesday at 8 PM EDT.

Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.

The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Emergency preparations in the area included activating 2800 National Guard troops in North Carolina, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so that major roads led away from shore and securing 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region.

They showed us instruments that function nearly like weather balloons, that are dropped into the storm to gather data that satellites can't.

Utilities also continued to prepare.

"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.

Duke also owns six nuclear generation facilities in the Carolinas that together produce almost 11,000 MW of electricity. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit. "It's a big one", he said. Fountain said they are trained every five weeks on weather issues and how to shut down the unit.

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Virginia Natural Gas, one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, also was closely monitoring the progress of Florence and on Wednesday was implementing its emergency response plan. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h. It pushed natural gas demand down about 2% (roughly 1 Bcf/d) below pre-storm levels, according to Genscape Inc. "However, it could still make a turn and impact us even more".

On Sept. 11, 2017, 6.1 million customers in Florida, 59% of the state, had lost power.

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC, and for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border. In the Piedmont Triad area, we are expecting somewhere between 5-10 inches of rain. It would be a huge mistake to consider Florence less of a threat on such a track.

"There is a chance it only potentially grazes the coast and just has most of the hurricane remain offshore, in which case it would continue to be over warm water", she said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling Florence a major and deadly storm.

The US east coast is bracing for more than 40 inches of rain as Hurricane Florence barrels nearer to land.

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

The National Hurricane Center said the hurricane's peak winds have decreased slightly to 125 mph but the size of the wind field has increased to outwards of 70 miles from the center.

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