Hurricane Florence Weakens To Category 2, Record Storm Surge Bound For Carolinas

Just an absolute embarrassment

At least 150,000 people were without power in North Carolina early Friday with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to utility companies. Pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

Hurricane Florence is a real, ongoing threat.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour with winds that have decreased significantly to 100 miles per hour.

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

Hurricane Florence has slowed as it approaches Wilmington, now marching at 5 miles per hour as it continues to aim its center at Wilmington, according to a 5 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.

Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but then reconsidered.

Florence's center will approach the North and SC coasts late Thursday and Friday. Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometres from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometres.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

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Evacuations of coastal North Carolina began at noon Monday, with Dare County officials calling for the entire county to evacuate. The winds will be strong enough to knock down trees, damage structures and cause widespread power outages, the center warned.

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"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house. The Wilmington area can now expect 9-to-13-foot storm surges if Florence's peak impact coincides with high tide, Brunswick County coastal areas west of Southport can expect 6-to-9-foot surges. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. "So will the power lines, as the trees fall down". "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing". "The ocean is going to start rising".

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.

Cooper also announced there are 2,800 National Guard troops in different staging areas of North Carolina. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades. As the recovery from past storms continues in many rural towns, the next storm is about to strike.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre warned that Florence remained deadly because of its size and slow forward speed, even if its top sustained winds have dropped it to Category 2 status as a hurricane.

Rainfall will be one of the most destructive elements of hurricane Florence, with heavy rain triggering unsafe flash floods and potential landslides.

Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida a year ago, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks. We've got a long way to go in that culture of preparedness I keep talking about and helping people understand what their risks are, how to mitigate their situation, and just really trying to communicate this is why we ask you to leave.

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