North Carolina coast feels Florence’s first blast of wind, rain

Katie Ramirez
September 16, 2018

A Category 2 storm packs sustained wind speeds of 96-110 miles per hour (154-177 kilometers/hour) and is no longer considered a "major" storm - a class belonging to hurricanes Cat 3 and up.

"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

In addition to the coastal flood warning, a tropical storm warning is in effect for Hampton Roads from Poquoson to the Virginia-North Carolina border because of Hurricane Florence.

The latest rainfall projections warn of 20-40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said.

"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference.

Senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart warns that Florence being a slow hurricane could mean three to four hours of battering, beach-eroding winds for some areas. "I am frightened about what's coming".

"Little change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland", the National Hurricane Center said.

People in areas vulnerable to the unsafe hurricane, particularly those in coastal regions, have fled ahead of the storm.

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Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

While the storm's winds have weakened since Wednesday, making it now a Category 2 storm, its range has grown and its damaging effects are now expected to be felt far inland beyond North Carolina and SC, which will be hit hardest.

At 15:00 GMT (11:00 am), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 230 km (145 miles) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at 17 kph (10 mph), the NHC said.

Steering currents - around clear-weather high-pressure systems and stormy low-pressure systems - redirect hurricanes, with the clear-weather systems acting as walls that storms have to go around.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of most of the state's coastline as the storm approaches. She says 61 shelters have opened thus far, including 12 that are specially outfitted to help people with special medical needs.

The latest forecast models for Hurricane Florence indicate it is now likely to dump rain on parts of NY and CT early next week.

He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 130 km (80 miles) from the centre of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 322 km (200 miles) out. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian Mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Evacuation orders are in place in the Carolinas and Virginia, and Georgia is in a state of emergency. BeachCam USA also has lists of pier and beach-side cameras across the coast, which you can search by state. It had long lines on Thursday. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said.

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