Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Hurricane Florence closes in on USA east coast

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Sandra Phillips | 14 September, 2018, 08:13

Meteorologists have given Hurricane Florence, which is now heading towards the U.S., a category four level strength, meaning the storm could cause major structural damage costing millions.

"Plan to be without power for days", Cooper said. REUTERS/Chris KeanePeople walk past a boarded up building before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018.

Because Hurricane Florence is so unbelievably massive, astronauts had to use a super wide-angle lens to capture photographs of the monstrous storm from space.

A hurricane hunter with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flew into the category three Hurricane Florence and reported back Wednesday what he was seeing.

Both Athens hospitals were monitoring the progress of the storm in case they were needed to receive patients from areas impacted by the storm.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".

On Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Service issued an alert that Hurricane Florence is "expected to bring [a] life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states".

At 11 a.m., the storm was centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 15 mph (24 kph).

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Hurricane Florence's winds and rain begin lashing Carolinas
The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it continues westward into SC and Georgia. It's possible that a storm surge between one and three feet may impact coastal Chesapeake Bay areas.

The storm is now classified as a "major hurricane", meaning wind speeds are greater than 110 miles per hour.

"There's very high confidence that Florence will reach the southern coast of North Carolina on Thursday night as a very unsafe major hurricane", meteorologist Bob Henson wrote on the website weatherunderground.com on Tuesday night.

The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm was heading for the coast of the two states but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

Up to 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been given voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, according to emergency management officials, as the storm churned across the Atlantic Ocean toward the coast.

Authorities in neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County.

The ground in Athens already is saturated from the 27 inches of rain that fell since April, so flooding remains a possibility as a result of Hurricane Florence, according to King. Flooding well inland could wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

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