Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Why a weaker, Category 2 hurricane is still unsafe

Why a weaker, Category 2 hurricane is still unsafe

Hurricane force winds will begin reaching the coast of the Carolinas by Thursday morning and the storm is not expected to leave the region in the next two days.

A high-definition video camera outside the space station captured stark and sobering views of Hurricane Florence, at that time a Category 4 storm.

Forecasters said wind speeds have dropped from a high of 225 km/h to 175 km/h, reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land.

FlightAware expects the number of cancellations to rise, although "the limited number of hubs being impacted by Florence will likely limit the scale of disruption that cascades through the national air travel system", spokeswoman Sara Orsi said in a statement. "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". That area also could be hit with up to 40 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft, coastal surface observations, and NOAA Doppler radar indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 90 miles per hour with higher gusts.

The downgraded status of the storm, which indicates that Hurricane Florence is moving at maximum sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour, means little in terms of its impact and deadly potential, according to Elliot Abrams, chief forecaster at Accuweather.

At least 280,000 people are already without power as the outskirts of the storm lashed North and SC, and Virginia.

But the biggest danger could be life-threatening storm surges.

Bleak warning issued as Hurricane Florence heads for the US.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...

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Helene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday.

The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions.

Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances. There is a moderate tornado risk for the local area.

Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall, NOAA noted.

An estimated 20-30 inches of rainfall is projected for coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC - with up to forty inches in isolated areas.

And there is also a major threat from freshwater, with warnings of "catastrophic" flooding from lakes, rivers and freshwater reserves expected over parts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

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