Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Florence weakens to Category 2 hurricane but still…

Hurricane Florence The latest on path strength This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday. S NASA via AP
| 22 September, 2018, 16:58

The outer bands of wind and rain from a weakened but still deadly Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina on Thursday as the monster storm moved in for an extended stay along the Southeastern coast, promising to drench the homes of as many as 10 million people with huge amounts of rain. But authorities warned it will still be an extremely unsafe hurricane.

At 11:00 local time, Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 230km east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at 17km/h, the NHC said.

The Category 1 storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a probable Friday landfall.

He said "feet of rain not inches" would drench the Carolinas and Virginia. In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.

The National Hurricane Center wrote on their advisory last night that while Florence has weakened some, "the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size".

"This is a very unsafe storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet".

"You're going to have damaging winds for a longer period of time", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in an update from the NHC. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.


"We just thought we'd go out while we still can", said Amy Baxter, on a walk near the city's waterfront with her husband, two sons and dog.

Steve Goldstein with 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 for "another 36 hours".

Hurricane Florence put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs Wednesday as the monster storm closed in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swath of the Southeast.

"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again", he said.

In Virginia, 245 000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.

"But I'm not afraid", he said. From east to west, the community is less than a dozen blocks deep, with the Atlantic on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other.

"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye", German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.

The forecast calls for as much as 40 inches (102 centimetres) of rain over seven days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the centre of the storm pushes its way over the Appalachian Mountains. The force of the wind has damaged the USA flag on the tower and is causing the ocean to churn. "Also, a little creepy".

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