Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 storm

Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 storm

Florence is a Category 2 storm in the Atlantic Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. "We're looking at tropical-storm force winds in our area for several hours, and that can cause a lot of damage - not to mention the rain we're looking at".

It has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, but forecasters say Hurricane Florence is still capable of delivering a lethal punch. It is now at Category 1. The huge storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane overnight, but forecasters warned that it still packed a unsafe punch, 110 mile-an-hour (175 kph) winds and torrential rains.

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain and storm surge will be high.

With winds picking up along the coastline early Thursday, federal and state officials had issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late on Friday.

Rain begins to fall as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 13, 2018.

Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.

Vereen was taking that recommendation at face value - she and her children live in a mobile home in an open field, with nothing to protect it from the hurricane.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning". Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

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"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

Most of the damage during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 in North Carolina came from inland flooding - 31 people died and almost 100,000 homes were destroyed.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic. "This is a powerful storm that can kill".

Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island. When Hurricane Floyd attacked North Carolina in 1999, it didn't stall; Floyd was a fast-moving storm.

Tom Ballance said his wife went to Atlanta and he stayed behind in their New Bern home with their three dogs and a cat.

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

"I've got everybody from nuclear scientists to doctors to search and rescue specialists to sheltering specialists to politicians right here in the [Emergency Operations Center]", Sprayberry says.

"I built this house myself, so I'm not anxious at all, I know it's solid", he said.

Perched on the porch of his home, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly awaiting Florence's arrival, beer in hand. "I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games".

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