Carolina Braces for Florence Storm Surge

James Marshall
September 14, 2018

Florence will strike the Carolinas overnight into Friday with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and massive inland rainfall flooding.

The storm's centre is expected to make landfall Friday (local time) in southeast North Carolina, which will coincide with the most severe effects.

Those surges alone are projected to cause inland flooding of more than 9 feet in cities like New Bern, North Carolina, even without the expected 15 to 20 inches of rain.

Hurricane Florence's strongest band of rain and wind yet is now moving through eastern North Carolina.

A National Weather Service forecaster has said it will be the "storm of a lifetime" for parts of the Carolina coast.

It's unclear exactly how many people evacuated, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Residents should expect to see higher tides than usual on the James and York rivers, as well as possible flooding and beach erosion.

Safety consultant Dennis Parnell, of Hampstead, North Carolina, plans to ride out the storm with his wife Cheri. Its maximum sustained winds dropped slightly from 110 miles per hour earlier Thursday to 105 miles per hour, but the storm remains a Category 2 hurricane that is expected to cause widespread catastrophic damage.

General O'Shaughnessy said there were about 7,000 U.S. military personnel now in place and ready to respond to the storm, along with ships, helicopters, high-wheeled vehicles and other equipment.

That was a bad idea, said Avair Vereen, a local nurse who had sought safety in the shelter with her seven children.

But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge".

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly.

Forecasters are calling Hurricane Florence a "generational storm".

Another video from NOAA's GOES-East weather satellite caught a different view of Hurricane Florence.

Florence could bring wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as four metres and NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook they could push in as far as three kilometres.

Some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks - barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina - and in some seaside coastal towns, as more than 110,000 power outages were reported statewide.

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

An estimated 3 million people across the Carolinas could be without power before long, and the lights may be out for weeks in some areas, said the region's largest provider, Duke Energy.

"It will be historic", Baker said of the rain from Florence.

Some people, such as Jennie, are refusing to heed evacuation warnings.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power is lost.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

One climate model is predicting that as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina in the coming week - an amount that's enough to fill the Empire State Building 40 times over.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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