Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Hurricane Florence: Storm downgraded but threat remains

Hurricane Florence: Storm downgraded but threat remains

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard's Marine Safety Unit from Huntington are heading towards North Carolina to help with rescue efforts following Hurricane Florence.

Night-time winds were down to 110 miles per hour from a high of 140 miles per hour, and the Category 3 storm fell to a Category 2, with a further slow weakening expected as the storm nears the coast. Despite the downgrade, Florence is expected to produce catastrophic flooding throughout the Carolinas.

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management. Strong winds could also spread inland into portions of the Carolinas.

The "threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days" in the impacted areas. "A turn to the west-northwest and west at an even slower forward speed is expected tonight and Friday, and a slow west-southwestward motion is forecast Friday night and Saturday".

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. As of 8 a.m., the hurricane is predicted to make landfall along the coast of the Carolinas tomorrow (Sept. 14), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center.

The National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, in a tweet called the storm surge "catastrophic".

"There's no backing down on the magnitude of this storm in relation to where it's going to hit", Bastardi said. "Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out.

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The NHC said that between 20 and 30 inches of rain could fall in some areas. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Hurricane Florence's path could affect the homes of more than 5 million people, and more than 1 million of them have been ordered to evacuate.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from prisons and juvenile detention centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. By late Wednesday, the authorities in North Carolina reported almost 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state.

There are fears that this storm could cause damage similar to what Houston suffered during Hurricane Harvey a year ago, when homes and businesses were inundated with floodwater.

In Hampton Roads, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Poquoson to the Virginia-North Carolina border, including the lower James and York rivers. What also makes this hurricane extremely risky are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland. Coastal Flooding: Outside the Storm Surge Watch area, minor coastal flooding could occur around the time of each high tide Thursday and Friday. The typhoon is expected to make landfall in the Philippines Saturday before barreling toward China, Vietnam and Laos.

Isaac will move past the eastern Caribbean islands by late Thursday.

What would you take if a major hurricane was threatening to inundate or pull apart your home?

And yet another tropical storm formed in the Atlantic Thursday night.

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