Rain and wind from Hurricane Florence begin lashing U.S. coast

Ismael LynchSep 15, 2018

Dangerous Hurricane Florence edged closer yesterday to delivering a powerful blow to the east coast of the U.S., with forecasters warning of life-threatening rainfall and flooding even as it weakened to a Category 2 storm.

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.

Its maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 miles per hour.

The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore. "Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different".

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount of rainfall", said Chris Landsea, head of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Centre.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

As the hurricane center says, "Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday, and move slowly through early Saturday".

The threat has sparked a rush of evacuation efforts in SC and North Carolina, with more than 1 million people urged to get out of Florence's way.

Hurricane Florence is being called a "monster" storm, and the warnings have been dire.

Crews also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

Analytics firm CoreLogic predicts that the damage from Florence could be more than $170 billion - making it the most expensive hurricane to hit the continental U.S.

Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

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

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH tourists Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

The storm surge, or wind-driven seawater, poses a huge danger, FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned on ABC's "Good Morning America".

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.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

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

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that Fema and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

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