Hurricane Florence Zeroes In On Carolinas, Bringing 130 MPH Winds

Hurricane Florence evacuations

Hurricane Florence evacuations

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Category 4 storm was about 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and moving northwest at about 16 mph.

By late afternoon, the centre of the storm was about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm but said life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding were expected over portions of North and SC.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the South Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks. "We want to make sure people understand that people should not ride Hurricane Florence out". That reduced Florence from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1, but forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day after day - will bring ocean water surging onto land and torrential rain. In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line. She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level.

"Rather than a very narrow and intense band of winds, the winds are slightly weaker - but [they] cover a much larger area", NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said on Wednesday.

"It brings multiple threats, including a massive storm surge at the coast, as well as a potentially catastrophic inland flood situation".

For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters. "This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding".

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These teams are being sent in response to a request Tuesday from North Carolina for assistance to support emergency personnel. The hurricane center predicts a "heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic for hundreds of miles".

Stewart added, "We're going to have a fairly stable, powerful hurricane with the potential for some additional slow strengthening over about the next 24 hours".

"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.

"Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls". Power outages will last weeks to possibly months.

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind does.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, with Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique under a tropical storm warning.

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