Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Hurricane Florence makes turbulent arrival with strong winds, bands of rain

Hurricane Florence makes turbulent arrival with strong winds, bands of rain

Officials say 321,000 people are without power in North Carolina as Florence pounds the area.

At the time, the storm carried winds of about 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), making it a Category 1 storm, but that ranking belies the hurricane's massive clouds and the downpour it is visiting on the coastline, with some areas already drenched in 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain.

Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

Inland cities and towns will not be spared from the storm, with anywhere from 5-20 inches of rain forecast to fall in many parts of North and SC. The National Hurricane Center's forecast is for Isaac "to gradually weaken over the next few days, and could degenerate into a tropical wave at anytime".

The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", he said.

Given the storm's size and slow speed, officials warned that Florence could cause similar large-scale flood damage to that seen in the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometres) from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometres).

In a hurricane, as Live Science has reported, the most significant threat is flooding, not the high winds.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Why a weaker, Category 2 hurricane is still unsafe
At least 280,000 people are already without power as the outskirts of the storm lashed North and SC , and Virginia. The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.

The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter. Through Sunday evening, more than 20 inches of rain could fall in southeast North Carolina and far northeast SC on top of what has already fallen.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

While the center of the storm appeared to take it away from Maryland's Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay, a projection by the National Weather Service showed Florence curling northward up the Appalachian Mountain range after it moves inland over North and SC.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it is not clear how many left.

Joyce, with winds extending about 35 miles from its center, is expected to tap the brakes a bit and turn eastward by Friday night, and then accelerate northeastward over the weekend.

As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of flooding, the NHC said.

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