Hurricane Florence: Storm force winds for North Carolina within hours

Terence Little
September 13, 2018

Randall Hill / Reuters Lisa Evers (Foreground) and her daughter Amanda Hamilton, both of Oak Island, decorate their storm shutters before evacuating ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Oak Island, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

Florence was downgraded Wednesday to a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

Hurricane warnings continue in parts of eastern North Carolina and northern coastal SC.

Hurricane Florence is closing in on the East Coast, ready to deliver what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is calling "a Mike Tyson punch" starting in about 24 hours.

As of 8 p.m., the storm was centered 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

The entire coastlines of North and SC, in addition to some parts of southeastern Virginia, are under a mandatory evacuation plan.

ESRI created a tracker to estimate just how many people would be affected by the storm's path given key demographic data from the area inside the error cone. "Expect this storm to batter our state for days".

Florence is now been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in the US, Thursday as an "extremely dangerous" hurricane according to the National Hurricane Center.

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They don't retire the name of every hurricane - and there's already a buzz that Florence will join the likes of Hazel (1954), Hugo (1989), Fran (1996) and Isabel (2003), the four most destructive hurricanes to strike the southeastern United States.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to creep across the coast from North Carolina to SC after making landfall late Thursday or early Friday. "That's the primary driver of the evacuations that are underway by the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia right now".

"The size of it now - the cloud field - would encompass all of North and SC", the meteorologist said.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways as Florence bore down for a direct hit in the low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes. Tropical storm-force winds are predicted to arrive by late Thursday morning or early afternoon.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, which sits on an exposed barrier island, Mike Patel is selling nearly everything in his grocery store at half-price. "We are leaving him our generator, but I don't think it's particularly smart of him". The governor added that a million or more people could be evacuated before the end of the storm.

Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations. It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

Instead of pushing directly towards states like West Virgina, Kentucky, or IN (following a generally northwest track from its initial landfall), Florence may now stall out on top of SC before moving west or southwest towards Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

For anyone hoping that Hurricane Florence will be the only major hurricane of the season, residents of the east coast won't be so lucky. Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. By Sunday, Florence will have dissipated to a tropical storm, and by Monday morning it will be a tropical depression.

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