Forecaster: Florence storm surge not diminished

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

The outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) as the monster storm moved in for an extended stay along the Southeastern coast, promising to drench the properties of 10 million people with huge amounts of water. On Thursday the health system did not have any patients admitted from hospitals in SC.

The hurricane, whose strength has been compared to a direct hit by Mike Tyson, advances with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometres per hour.

The "threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days" in the impacted areas.

Florence is anticipated to move slowly over eastern South Carolina Friday night through Saturday night.

Florence was about 235 miles east southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and about 280 miles east southeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving northwest at 17 mph, as of 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to the NHC.

"Storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people", FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area tonight and Friday. "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week". It's moving toward the coast at a speed of 12mph.

It's estimated as many as 3 million homes and businesses in North and SC could lose power after Hurricane Florence drives into the coast, leaving much of the region in darkness for weeks. Some roads were already impassable in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

With winds in the 110-mph range, Florence was still close to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned against complacency. We're on the weak, dry side of the storm.

The storm's intensity held at about 90 miles per hour (144 kph), and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore.

Once the rain hits the coast, it will accumulate very quickly, causing some flash flooding and eventually likely overwhelming streams and rivers in the areas that get the most. Its surge of ocean water could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet, and days of downpours could dump more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. This is a life-threatening situation.

Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled about 1,200 flights and counting, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.

U.S. emergency officials have warned "time is running out" for people to escape from Hurricane Florence as outer bands of wind and rain began lashing North Carolina.

The National Guard is on standby in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to deal with emergencies as they arise. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled ahead of the storm, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

-Size: Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

A hurricane warning is in effect for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.

The full impact of the storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.

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