Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

As Florence Surges Forward, Rethinking What Hurricane Preparation Looks Like

As Florence Surges Forward, Rethinking What Hurricane Preparation Looks Like

As of 8am local time, it was centred about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 220 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving north west at 12mph.

Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday packing winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) as an emergency management official warned the monster storm would deliver a "Mike Tyson punch" to the Carolina coast.

Motorists streamed inland on roads converted to one-way evacuation routes as about 1.7 million people in three U.S. states were warned to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a hair-raising storm taking dead aim at the Carolinas with 130mph winds and potentially ruinous rains.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast on Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".

Although slow weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday, the NHC added. "This reduces the risk to all customers for any potential outages", she said. After its initial impact, Byard said the most serious concern will be massive rainfalls that would produce risky inland flooding.

Historic and potentially catastrophic flooding is possible along with life-threating storm surges of up to 12 feet are possible along the coasts.

Large surf at Atlantic Beach, NC as Hurricane Florence nears.

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Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge. At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach police chief Dan House said. Rather than pushing up toward western Virginia, the storm's center is now predicted to move across the middle of SC. "This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding". It had been projected to shift north after making landfall.

Overnight, Florence went through an "eyewall replacement cycle", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in an update from the hurricane center on Tuesday.

Even with some weakening that is predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

"Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls".

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night. If Florence weakens enough to arrive as a Category 3 storm, it would likely be near the upper limit of that classification. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. The Category 4 storm destroyed 15,000 buildings and killed 19 people in North Carolina.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. Tropical Storm Isaac is heading westward toward the central Lesser Antilles, but is a bit weaker, with Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica now under tropical storm, not hurricane, warnings.

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