Threat becomes reality as Hurricane Florence closes in

Katie Ramirez
September 15, 2018

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Florence had racked up winds of 130mph and is on a trajectory which suggests its centre is most likely to hit the south coast of North Carolina by Friday.

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. "Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different".

Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.

Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

People in areas vulnerable to a risky hurricane have left or are fleeing ahead of the storm's expected Friday or Saturday landfall.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia while schools and factories were being shuttered.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections says some prisoners were moved in a Pee Dee facility ahead of Florence's approach toward the coast.

A crew of about 80 rescuers from Montgomery County is headed to SC to help deal with Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

More than 400 hundred officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will be stationed in the coastal areas to help assists evacuation and protect property.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, "This hurricane is bringing more rain than any other hurricane", according to SCETV.

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Maryland and Washington, D.C. have also both declared states of emergency.

"I'm scared we'll get 30 inches or more of rain", said Carol Trojniar, 69, a longtime Wilmington resident and retired real estate agent who has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane.

The NHC said Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land.

The threat of storm surges loom for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible in the next 36 hours.

Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles from the eye of the storm, and tropical-storm-force winds now extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.

However, forecasters warned the widening storm, and its likelihood of lingering along the coast for several days, raises the risk of surging ocean water and torrential rain. "I'm a little bit scared right now", she said, "but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter warned of the storm's dangers and praised his administration's handling of past hurricanes, rejecting criticism for its response to Hurricane Maria previous year in Puerto Rico.

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

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