Hurricane Florence is moving towards land with stormy winds and heavy rains

Clay Curtis
September 15, 2018

"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

The Category 1 hurricane, with punishing winds and dumping 3 inches of rain an hour, made landfall at 7:15 a.m. ET near Wrightsville Beach, just east of Wilmington.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.

Charley English of the American Red Cross said anyone wondering how to help from afar can donate blood, registering first at their local Red Cross websites.

Debris from Hurricane Florence covers a street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina.

A weather station at a community college recorded a 100 miles per hour wind gust, and forecasters tweeted that a 91 miles per hour wind gust slammed into Wilmington's airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

Hurricane Florence, one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the United States mainland, came ashore early Friday morning north of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

Florence's rain will be relentless, with up to 40 inches expected in some parts of the Carolina coasts, forecasters said.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 144 km/h by nightfall.

At 9 a.m. the center of the hurricane was about 55 miles east of Myrtle Beach. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

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North Carolina utilities estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said. We knew it was coming, and we're working very hard to keep our citizens safe.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere near an end.

The number of people in the Carolinas covered by federal flood insurance has actually declined over the last five years, despite a wave of panic buying after last year's storms.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday morning according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

The center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, N.C., recorded seven feet above normal water levels. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers). The system is likely to weaken and strike as a Category 1 Hurricane as the winds have also weakened in strength a little as has been reported by the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm makes its way slowly inland.

While wind speeds dropped Thursday, forecasters reminded people that what makes Florence extremely risky are the potentially deadly storm surges, the expected mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall.

Despite Hurricane Florence being downgraded to a Category 1 storm, the ocean surge created as a result could be "catastrophic".

Hurricane Florence, weakened but still unsafe, crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a dayslong deluge.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their house as Hurricane Florence crashed into North Carolina on Friday, swamping streets with torrential rain and a powerful storm surge.

The video below, taken in Wilmington, North Carolina, shows a large tree being split in half in Florence's winds.

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