Tracking Hurricane Florence as storm lands in North Carolina

Tracking Hurricane Florence as storm lands in North Carolina

Tracking Hurricane Florence as storm lands in North Carolina

- The outer bands of Hurricane Florence, which has downgraded to a Category 2 storm, have reached the Carolina coastline as of Thursday morning.

Data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft, coastal surface observations, and NOAA Doppler radar indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 90 miles per hour with higher gusts. "Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected".

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

As Florence reaches landfall, storm surges are the biggest concern, with 49% of U.S. hurricane deaths attributed to surges.

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation.

Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph) as its outer rain bands approached the North Carolina coast early Thursday, reducing the storm from Category 4 to Category 2, but forecasters warned that the enormous wind field has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land.

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Once it makes landfall Friday, Florence is expected to stall, drenching the region with 20 to 30 inches and as much as 40 inches in isolated areas.

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.

The storm remained a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.

Hurricane Watch remains in effect for Charleston and Berkeley Counties, as well as for Charleston Harbor and the nearshore waters adjacent the Charleston County coast Storm Surge Watch remains in effect from Edisto Beach north to South Santee River and Tidal Berkeley County.

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

"A turn toward the west-northwest and west at a slow forward speed is expected through Friday, followed by a slow west-southwestward motion Friday night and Saturday", the NHC said. Heavy rains are expected to move in late Saturday night through Monday.

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An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast.

The Canadian government has warned citizens against travel to the stretch of the U.S. East Coast that is expected to be hammered by Florence.

In perspective, Florence could drop up to eight months of rain in two or three days. These power outages could last days to weeks, Brock Long, a spokesperson with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told Reuters. At least nine nuclear facilities also lie in the storm's path, including Duke Energy's Brunswick nuclear plant in North Carolina. This will likely lead to power outages across the area.

How big is Hurricane Florence? .

The storm's center was about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a National Hurricane Center briefing. While the storm has weakened from a wind speed standpoint, the wind field has grown by almost 200 miles, according to Mulcahy.

With more than 1,500 commercial airline flights in and out of the Carolinas canceled - and potentially many more to come - even the skies above sat empty, except for Florence's foreboding cloud cover and rapidly strengthening rain.

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