Hurricane Florence could stall offshore in repeat of "Harvey"

Pablo Tucker
September 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm, is slowly approaching the USA coast, and the storm's massive fury is on full display in video footage taken from the International Space Station. Hurricane Florence on Wednesday night weakened to a Category 2 storm over the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of about 175 km per hour, authorities said. But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day - will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.

Even with some weakening that is predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

"We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge".

Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast.

Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states.

By midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington.

This morning, the radar loop out of Morehead North Carolina is beginning to show those fans of heavy rain closing in on the coast.


The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.

"It's all going to be predicated on where the damage is at, in terms of how and where we deploy our resources", said Penn.

"Don't relax, don't get complacent". However, most scientists are in agreement that rising global temperatures had an impact on the severity of storms like Harvey, Maria, and Irma.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

"Rather than a very narrow and intense band of winds, the winds are slightly weaker - but [they] cover a much larger area", NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said on Wednesday.


Once it makes landfall, Florence is expected to lash coastal communities with high winds and dump several feet of water.

Never before has a hurricane threatened the East Coast with almost 1.2m of rainfall.

In Shallotte, N.C., a coastal town near the border with SC, emergency orders forced a Waffle House to shut down - an act that was widely seen as a sign of respect for Florence's imposing size and strength.

About 800 flights in the region have been canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers and sent in around 1,100 trucks to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

Duke Energy said Florence, a Category 2 storm, could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Those living on the United States east coast have been boarding up their properties, stockpiling supplies and some have left their homes as the Category 2 storm heads toward land.

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.


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