Hurricane Florence: Winds and Rain Lashing the Carolinas
- President Trump urged people to get out of the way. “Don’t play games with it. It’s a big one
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-M people with huge amounts of rain.
Florence’s Top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 140 mph (225 kph) to 110 mph (175 kph) early Thursday . That reduced Florence from a Category 4 to a Category 2 hurricane, but forecasters warned that the widening storm and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day after day will bring surging ocean water and torrential rain.
“It truly is really about the whole size of this storm,” the National Hurricane Center Director said. “The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact, and we have that.”
The hurricane center’s best estimate was that Florence’s eye would blow ashore as early as early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Then, it will likely hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 ft of storm surge and dumping water on both states. The forecast calls for as much as 40 ins of rain over 7 days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the center of the storm slogs away over the Appalachian Mountains.
The result: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.
About 5.25-M people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9-M more live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.
Weather Underground’s meteorology director said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 mph (160 kph), but that’s still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely dangerous.
President Donald Trump declared the government’s readiness and urged people to get out of the way. “Don’t play games with it. It’s a big one,” he said from the White House.