Hurricane Florence latest forecast could still mean tropical impacts for Middle Georgia

Clay Curtis
September 14, 2018

Florence was expected to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday local time (5pm Irish time), and forecasters said its size meant it could batter the US East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.

Duke Energy said Florence, a Category 2 storm, could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 110 miles per hour sustained winds, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.

The Charleston area will see winds near tropical storm strength of 40 miles per hour and somewhere between 3 to 6 inches of rain.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said.

He added that people living near rivers, streams and lowland areas in the region were most at risk. More than one million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of North and SC and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm as of the 11 p.m. Thursday update from the National Hurricane Center but it is still a risky storm.

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious.

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

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Hurricane Florence's outer edges have started to batter the coast of North Carolina - with winds of 100mph bending trees and shooting frothy seawater onto the streets. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers). But authorities warned it will still be an extremely risky hurricane.

Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas.

Instead, the storm is now expected to make landfall over Wilmington, traveling south over Myrtle Beach between Friday and Saturday, and then traveling through SC and North Carolina to the Tennessee border through Sunday into Monday.

Air Force General Terrence J O'Shaughnessy, head of US Command, said search and rescue is a top priority but that the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of rescuers. More flights were expected to be grounded and more airports were preparing to shut down operations as the storm moves inland.

Still, the storm has the capacity for huge destruction.

Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.

Qlik analyzed branch data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and compared it with the National Weather Service's storm-path forecast and the probabilities that certain areas would see tropical storm-force winds. Forecasters predict it will make landfall between Thursday and Friday. As the recovery from past storms continues in many rural towns, the next storm is about to strike. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands face possible isolated amounts of 3 inches.

Police patrol the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast.

Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.

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