Craven County braces for Hurricane Florence

Greg Lawrence
September 18, 2018

Hurricane Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kilometres per hour) to 110 mph (175 kph) as its outer rain bands approached the North Carolina coast early Thursday, reducing the storm from Category 4 to Category 2.

Florence was about 235 miles east southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and about 280 miles east southeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving northwest at 17 mph, as of 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to the NHC.

The center of Florence is expected to approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The Miami-based center said in an update at 11 p.m. that the storm's eye was about 50 miles south of Morehead, City, North Carolina.

This same zone will be hammered by winds gusting up to hurricane force for almost a day while tropical-storm conditions could linger twice that long.

A storm front is seen on the beach in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, prior to Hurricane Florence moving toward the United States east coast.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "sometime Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".

Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall, the NHC said, with 20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches, in coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC.

The result could be catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, fields and industrial sites.

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands have moved to emergency shelters. It is now heading towards the US East Coast that it is predicted to hit on Friday.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

UPDATED THU 5 A.M. Map shows probable path of Hurricane Florence.; 1c x 2 1/2 inches 46.5 mm x 63
UPDATED THU 5 A.M. Map shows probable path of Hurricane Florence.; 1c x 2 1/2 inches 46.5 mm x 63

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain and storm surge will be high.

FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate. "Don't play games with it".

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI.

Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled about 1,200 flights and counting, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1100 trucks. Florence is still a very large hurricane.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

"We just thought we'd go out while we still can", said Amy Baxter, on a walk near the city's waterfront with her husband, two sons and dog.

Models agree that excessive amounts of rain will fall in southeastern North Carolina.

The American government is ready to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane but people should get out of the way, Trump said.

Hurricane Florence is preparing to bear down on the Carolinas, with the storm's path posed to move up the U.S. Southeast.

With their entire neighbourhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

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