FLORENCE: Up to 30 percent of NC could lose power

Pablo Tucker
September 14, 2018

The hurricane center's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

That reduced the winds' destructive power from Category 4 to Category 2, but forecasters warned that the widening storm, and its likelihood of lingering along the coast day after day after day, raises the risk of surging ocean water and torrential rain.

A hurricane warning is in effect for a big chunk of the Carolina coast, from the South Santee River below Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Duck, N.C. - part of the Outer Banks.

The storm will churn very slowly Friday and Saturday, extending the damaging winds and huge amounts of rain that will hit the same areas of North and SC for 24 hours.

"This could be a recovery nightmare", said Steve Pfaff, with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Energy companies have also warned that the storm could knock out power for the foreseeable future in some areas.

There is little doubt that Hurricane Florence will be a significant storm as it approaches the coast the the Carolinas and Georgia.

The reason Florence will slowly drift across South Carolina over the weekend is that two high pressure ridges are still expected to be strong enough to force Florence to stall just before, or after, it makes landfall somewhere near the North Carolina/South Carolina border early Friday.

The US may have suffered its most costly year for hurricane damages last year but Florence, the first major storm of the 2018 hurricane season, represents an unusual sort of threat to coastal communities.

Florence is still a very large hurricane.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. The hurricane's maximum wind speed slowed to 105 miles per hour overnight, but experts predict 13 feet of storm surge will spill across some coastal areas, creating "catastrophic" and "life-threatening inundation", said a NHC statement issued Thursday.

President Donald Trump touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way. "Dont play games with it".

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", Epperson said.

The hurricane is expected to begin making landfall today, Thursday September 13 as more than 1.5 million people are ordered to evacuate their homes in the US. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that was later downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a Wilmington hotel several miles inland. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

Beaches throughout the region will see storm surges as high as 12 feet, with the surge expected to cause structural damage to buildings in many areas, with homes on barrier islands washed away entirely.

At Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade is moving out as the military base becomes a staging site for FEMA.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty. As of Wednesday evening, officials say these surges are now "highly likely" as Florence churns closer. Hurricane Florence is now over 500 miles (804 kilometers) in diameter.

When will Hurricane Florence hit Charlotte?

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