Hurricane Florence's winds slap Carolina coast, flooding threat looms

Olive Hawkins
September 14, 2018

Up to 1.7 million people have now been ordered to leave their homes as the U.S. braces for Hurricane Florence.

The ocean is moving inland ahead of Florence as storm surge begins to flood the Carolinas coast, according to the NHC.

Florence, a Category 3 hurricane, was about 370 miles (595 km) east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 km per hour), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.

But the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening that the storm is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to the Carolinas as it approaches the coast Thursday and Friday.

Update: As of 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence has dipped to a Category 2 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.

As of 8 p.m., the storm was centered 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

That's because the weather systems that push and pull a storm disappear as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

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Forecasters say those areas could be battered with hurricane conditions for at least 24 hours. Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, calculates that Florence will deduct about $200 million of output a day from North Carolina's $550 billion-a-year economy until business returns to something close to normal. "Disaster is at the doorstep and it's coming in". Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

Meanwhile, the projections for rain are growing, adding to growing concerns about flooding across the two states: Coastal North Carolina now expects 20-30 inches, with isolated areas of 40 inches projected in SC.

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

North Carolina's Duplin and Sampson counties, just inland, sell more hogs and pigs than anywhere else in America. "It's going to happen".

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...

"We've been sold out for a while now and we just basically tell them that when people call", Ring said. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding. North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said crops such as tobacco and corn are in midharvest while sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans and cotton are still in the field. "But no matter how bad it's going to be, it will pass and our job will be to rebuild this community together, and that's what we're going to do".

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