Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Florence weakens to Category 2 hurricane but still life-threatening: NHC

Florence weakens to Category 2 hurricane but still life-threatening: NHC

Port preparations extended from Savannah, Ga., north to Baltimore, as forecasters at the National Hurricane Center issued increasingly narrowed predictions for the passage of Hurricane Florence.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? And forecasts show those currents just not giving the storm any sense direction in a day or so.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm but said life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding were expected over portions of North and SC.

In the city of New Bern, one of the hardest hit areas in North Carolina, more than 300 people were trapped in cars, on roofs and in their attics overnight after over 10 feet of storm surge flooded the river-front city. It's about 90 miles northeast of Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. September 14.

But the hurricane had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.

The storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7.15 am, the National Hurricane Centre said. And Florence remained capable of unleashing rain-fueled catastrophic flooding of rivers and low-lying areas across a wide region. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet.

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Amtrak canceled its passenger rail service south of Washington, D.C., and there were almost 600 cancellations of flights arriving or departing from major airports in the Carolinas. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, South Carolina to South Santee River, South Carolina. Tropical storm watches extend as far north as Norfolk, Virginia. The hurricane center described the storm surge as "life-threatening".

NHC said, "The center of Florence will be moving inland very soon, but is expected to slow down even more today and tonight".

Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend. It was expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north, forecasters said.

In an 11:00 pm Eastern Time advisory, the NHC said: "While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size".

"We have crews sheltered in place at this time, waiting for the storm's passage", said Capt. Bion Stewart, the Coast Guard incident commander for Hurricane Florence. "This surge is also likely along portions of the SC coast". "Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances". The following list encompasses local, national, and worldwide organizations offering a variety of services during the crisis. Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas.

Once a tropical system moves inland, flooding and flash flooding becomes the biggest threat for days. Wilmington is expected to get battered before the storm drifts south.

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