Hurricane Florence weakens slightly, expected to reach Carolinas as Cat 3

13 September, 2018, 13:43 | Author: Ann Santiago
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Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Hurricane Florence's rainfall now lurks just over 100 miles off the coast of the Carolinas and time is running out to prepare. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge. But the hurricane center said it is "still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday".

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., September 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. The storm is moving northwest at 17 miles per hour (27 kph).

The National Hurricane Center's latest predictions Wednesday had Florence hovering off Southeast shores for more than two days before making landfall near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, perhaps not until Saturday. The National Hurricane Center says it's now expected to hit Wilmington and then veer west, taking it south of Charlotte.

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"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham called Hurricane Florence's size is "staggering."

In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

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"People do not live and survive to tell the tale about what their experience is like with storm surge", Long said. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".

As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.

At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest storm to ever hit the U.S.

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". Most other beachgoers were long done.

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"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said. "You feel like you should have already left".

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