Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Hurricane Center says Florence close to landfall in North Carolina

Hurricane Center says Florence close to landfall in North Carolina

More than 150,000 customers in North Carolina were reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached. Florence is now at the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Some Carolinians have expressed frustration after evacuating their homes for a storm that was later downgraded - but officials have pushed back at suggestions that Florence's threat has been exaggerated.

Storm surge is caused in part by the brunt of hurricane force winds.

FEMA officials wrote on Twitter people should not focus on the category of the storm - as of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 2 storm, indicating slower wind speeds - but rather should pay attention to the fact there will be extreme flooding in the Carolinas as a result.

As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding. But Luettich said it is still not well understood how factors like rain accumulation and land saturation affect river and coastal flooding during major storm events. That makes it hard to project how the region will ultimately be affected.

Officials have warned the storm has the potential to kill "a lot of people" amid risks of "catastrophic" flooding.

Hurricane Florence Shifts South as Carolinas Hunker Down
But then the screen behind Navarro becomes the storm surge itself, and, well, you just have to watch the whole thing. In less than 24 hours, Florence has dropped from category 4 to category 2.

One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now".

The downgraded status of the storm, which indicates that Hurricane Florence is moving at maximum sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour, means little in terms of its impact and deadly potential, according to Elliot Abrams, chief forecaster at Accuweather.

At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out. Her team manages 32 wild horses living in the Rachel Carson Reserve near Beaufort, North Carolina.

It is expected to impact Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

"Sometimes these systems, they expand", she said.

As if the storm itself is not risky enough, it is expected to spawn tornadoes in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday.

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