Florence by the numbers: Strongest wind gust in 60 years hits Wilmington

Olive Hawkins
September 14, 2018

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely unsafe storm for rain and storm surge. Its surge of ocean water could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. Authorities warned people in low-lying areas to prepare for flooding.

Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland". "Follow advice from [your] local government officials", reads the latest update from the National Weather Service in Charlotte.

Maryland is not predicted to receive the brunt of the storm.

- Hurricane Florence remains a Category 2 storm as it makes its approaches to the Carolinas. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Bill Saffo, Mayor of Wilmington, near where the storm hit, told CNN he had never seen a storm stay over his town as long as Florence is forecast to. The hurricane's maximum wind speed slowed to 105 miles per hour overnight, but experts predict 13 feet of storm surge will spill across some coastal areas, creating "catastrophic" and "life-threatening inundation", said a NHC statement issued Thursday. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that".

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday urged residents to remain alert despite changing forecasts.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plan to close, even if power was lost, and there were lines to get in on Thursday evening. "Today the threat becomes a reality". Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters' European climate model is predicting that 2 trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherModels.com. That is enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to bring "catastrophic flash flooding" to parts of North and SC, along with strong winds and a massive storm surge.

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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

Businesses, online groups and other individuals also offered assistance to evacuees. "More are on the way to help us". Some are pet-friendly, and others are not.

Here is the newest information on Hurricane Florence as it lands on the East Coast.

More than 3,000 people joined the group Wednesday night, said volunteer moderator Katlyn McBrayer, adding that each donor is recorded in a database to match them with someone in need.

"That's the second story of a house", he said. "A hurricane is like a forced vacation that you might not be able to afford".

More than 80,000 people in North Carolina already were without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. By Thursday afternoon, 220 evacuees had arrived to fill each cabin, bringing with them 95 children and 55 dogs, camp director Tim Brady said. "Someone is driving up a horse". "Now is not the time to let down our guard", he said.

Solange Iliou Thompson, a restaurant owner in the town of Wilmington, North Carolina, made her stance clear.

Dresner said there was also a brief tornado warning Thursday night.

"It's a double-edged sword when you're telling people to get out before the storm and don't leave [their animals] behind", Ms. Whaley said.

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