Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

North Carolina Feels First Bite Of Hurricane Florence

North Carolina Feels First Bite Of Hurricane Florence

Outside this zone of destructive winds, damaging winds are still likely, even some distance inland from the coast, which would lead to minor structural damage, downed trees and widespread power outages. Wind gusts from Florence could reach tropical storm force (39+ mph), while sustained winds are expected to be in the 20-30 miles per hour range. Storm surge, the rise in seawater above normally dry land at the coast, could rise a story high.

"We expect those numbers to rise significantly over the next 24 hours, as the storm approaches and airlines finalize their operations plans", said Sara Orsi, a spokesperson for FlightAware.

Hurricane Florence is moving toward the East Coast with sustained wind speeds of 105 miles per hour. After criticism for its response in Puerto Rico to last year's Hurricane Maria, which officials there said was responsible for 3,000 deaths, Trump has vowed a vigorous response to Florence and defended his handling of Maria. The storm was about 170 miles (275 km) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

The center of Florence, no longer classified as a major hurricane but still posing a grave threat to life and property, is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday, enough time to drop feet of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to bring "catastrophic flash flooding" to parts of North and SC, along with strong winds and a massive storm surge.

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The storm's forward motion has slowed 11km/h since Wednesday (local time), which was predicted as the storm nears the coast.

As many as three million people are expected to lose power. It's expected to bring tropical storm conditions and up to 5 inches of rain across the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

Five states and Washington, DC, have declared states of emergency: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland. Christy Hall said that when the I-26 lane reversal begins to be dismantled Thursday evening at 6 p.m., that should not be viewed as an indication the mandatory evacuation has been lifted. Forecasters say 40 inches (one meter) of rain are possible along the coast of North Carolina. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely risky. "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)". Weakening is expected after the center moves inland. Earlier this week, it had been projected to shift north after making landfall.

The latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center for rainfall from Florence predicts between 1 and 4 inches for NY and CT.

Storm surge warnings were issued from South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina.

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