Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Florence knocking on Wilmington's door, remains Category 4 storm

Florence knocking on Wilmington's door, remains Category 4 storm Florence knocking on Wilmington's door, remains Category 4 storm
Sandra Phillips | 15 September, 2018, 09:57

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal says the state "is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".

Strong winds, storm surge, and flash flooding are major concerns for Florence and rains in excess of 20 inches can be expected in the Cape Fear region.

Florence's nighttime winds were down to 110 miles per hour (175 kph) from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), and the Category 3 storm fell to a Category 2, with a further slow weakening expected as the storm nears the coast.

The threat has sparked a rush of evacuation efforts in SC and North Carolina, with more than 1 million people urged to get out of Florence's way.

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said that while Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday and into Friday, it will still be an "extremely risky major hurricane" when it makes landfall.

Amanda Kinseth, reporter for WPDE ABC 15 News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In the 11 p.m. ET advisory, Florence was 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 17 mph. In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm would move further inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern SC on Friday and Saturday. "Now it might be time for the exam", Baxley said late in the morning.

More than a million people are under mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents frantically boarded up homes and businesses and hit the road as the storm approached.

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The disaster area was expected to get about as much rain in three days as the 1999 Dennis and Floyd storms dropped in two weeks. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

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Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird. By late Wednesday, authorities in North Carolina reported almost 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state. For example, the seas off of Wilmington, North Carolina have risen 7.5 inches since 1935, according to NOAA.

Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps. Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Right now, it is looking more likely that Florence will stall VERY close to shore Thursday evening, delaying a technical landfall of the eye/center to sometime Friday or even early Saturday.

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.

In neighboring Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan said his state was readying for potentially "historic and catastrophic rainfall, life-threatening flooding, and high winds".

The shift in the projected track had areas that once thought they were out of range anxious.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. In South Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".

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