Hurricane Florence deluges Carolinas ahead of Friday landfall

Hurricane Florence starts flooding parts of the Carolinas

The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday (Sep 13) as forecasters warned the monster storm would dump copious amounts of rain on the US East Coast and cause life-threatening flooding.

Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 225kmh to 175kmh as its outer rain bands approached the North Carolina coast early on Thursday.

Storm surges of 9 to 13 feet and rainfall up to 40 inches: Those are two of the most dire warnings about Hurricane Florence's effect on parts of North and SC.

Although Florence weakened to a Category 2 hurricane late Wednesday night, the storm is still expected to produce catastrophic flooding throughout the Carolinas when it makes landfall Thursday night or Friday. Storm winds could range from 80 to 195 miles per hour, officials said.

The New York Times reported that Duke Energy, the Carolinas' major power supplier, said as many as 3 million people could lose power.

The result could be what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago - catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, fields and industrial sites.

"We now have a travel alert which has been posted for 23 airports from Virginia all the way through Georgia on the East Coast", says Ross Feinstein, spokesman for American Airlines.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely unsafe.

GEMA/HS continues to lead our preparedness efforts as we coordinate with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states. "Don't play games with it".

Evacuation warnings have been in place for 1.7 million people in the area.

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The rain posed a greater danger, forecasters warned, with some spots getting as much as 40 inches (1 m) of precipitation, enough to cause devastating flash floods miles from the coast. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres and sent in around 1,100 trucks to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

"Hurricane Florence is looking even bigger than anticipated". The power companies expect millions of people to be without power for days.

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

Windows and doors are boarded up in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence September 12, 2018 in Morehead City, North Carolina.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".

- As the east coast of the United States braces for Hurricane Florence, FEMA administrator Brock Long is reportedly under investigation for misusing government resources for travel, an issue that has roiled several other former Trump Cabinet secretaries.

Hurricane Florence weakened from a Category 4 down to a Category 2 storm Wednesday night but the massive system is still considered extremely unsafe and life threatening.

With their entire neighbourhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

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