Florence's rain bands lash Carolinas — WHAT'S HAPPENING

James Marshall
September 16, 2018

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Thursday, September 13, 2018.

The NHC said tropical storm-force winds will hit North and SC with full force on Thursday evening.

As of 5 a.m. EDT (0900g) it was centered about 205 miles (325 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 250 miles (450 kilometers) east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving northwest at 15 mph (24 kph). Storm surge flooding also could push 2 miles or more inland if Florence lingers for days along the coast.

As of 8am ET on Thursday, Florence was driving maximum sustained winds of 110mph (177km/h), according to an updated forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it approaches landfall in the USA - but it is very slow moving and could linger the coastline bringing catastrophic flooding and heavy losses to insurers. The storm's overall movement has slowed to 10 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to slowly move into North and SC on Thursday, and conditions are expected to get worse.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100mph, but that is still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

Cooper said 108 shelters are open across the state, with more than 7,000 people already staying at them, as of Thursday afternoon. That said, the storm still brought powerful storm surges and unsafe flooding. "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)". As of Thursday, almost a dozen airports have shut down, with more than 1,000 flights being canceled. More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

The storm was expected to become a tropical depression on Saturday and significant weakening was expected over the weekend, the NHC said in a bulletin.

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. In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said the government "got A Pluses" for storm recovery in Texas and Florida and "did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico". "But they come and they go in a matter of minutes". "I've got four cats inside the house".

"If you're going to leave - and you should leave - if you have not left these evacuation zones, you should leave now because time is running out", McMaster said.

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