Weakening Hurricane Florence nears N.C. coast, to produce ‘life-threatening’ conditions

Olive Hawkins
September 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds, churned ever closer to the U.S. East Coast on Wednesday as evacuations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the threat of deadly high seas and calamitous floods.

The fierce winds of Hurricane Florence are weakening as it creeps closer to North Carolina but the impact of the enormous storm will still be catastrophic for millions of people.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

While Florence is no longer considered a major hurricane, its reach has expanded, threatening residents from Georgia to Virginia.

About 300,000 people have been evacuated from South Carolina, McMaster said. President Donald Trump said there was nothing to fear because his administration did such good work responding to last year's storms - including Hurricane Maria, which killed 3,000 people in Puerto Rico.

WCNC-TV meteorologist Brad Panovich told WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry that the shift of Florence means more rain for the Charlotte area.

Still, the potential for coastal flooding remains a concern, they said.

More than 1.5 million peoplehave been told to evacuate Virginia and the Carolinas ahead of the expected landfall of Hurricane Florence, which has strengthened to a category 4 event that the National Weather Service has said is "the storm of a lifetime" and Roy Cooper, North Carolina governor, more bluntly called "a monster".

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Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) declared a state of emergency for Georgia Wednesday.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said.

The projected track of the tropical storm across the rest of the United States depends on wind direction as it could head west and southwest.

"As soon as we get any type of notice", he said, "we start contacting families".

Florence is bearing down with such strength that forecasters say she may literally reshape the Carolina coastline.

Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports.

Myrtle Beach's Ocean Boulevard was practically empty at midday on Wednesday, September 12, as the SC town prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

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