Hurricane Florence's winds began whipping coastal North Carolina on Thursday as the slow-moving tempest began to unleash fierce rains that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the U.S. southeast.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC. According to forecasters, the center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday. It's now predicted to make landfall near Wilmington and then head west across SC.
Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.
The images, captured from249 miles above the storm, captured Florence as it draws close to North Carolina's coast. "I am frightened about what's coming". "I've never seen anything like this".
The forecast suggests as much as 40in 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. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.
The power company serves about 4 million people in this region, meaning they expect between about 25 and 75 percent of their Carolina customers to be impacted. Hours before a mandatory evacuation took effect, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, resident Phoebe Tesh paused while loading her vehicle to have a glass of wine on the steps of the house where she and her husband rent an apartment.
Previously classified as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, Florence is so far the most severe storm to threaten the United States mainland this year and the first of its magnitude to target the Carolinas since 1989 when Hurricane Hugo barreled over Charleston, South Carolina. It is expected that the hurricane moves on or near the coastline during the night of Thursday through Friday.
The police chief of a barrier island in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence is warning any stragglers who refused to evacuate that they are making a risky choice. The New York Times reported that Duke Energy, the Carolinas' major power supplier, said as many as 3 million people could lose power. Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed. Waves off the shore of North Carolina have already gotten as high as 13 feet, he saYS.
Despite pleas from state and local officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.
"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said. It had long lines on Thursday.
"I was feeling fine until I woke up this morning and this is a ghost town", said Kristin Beard, a 40-year-old Myrtle Beach marketer.
"The anxiety level has dropped substantially", Epperson said.
"The time to leave is running out, there will come a time when it will be too late and the rescue teams will not be able to come because they will also have to take refuge", warned South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.