Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Research | By Dana Schwartz

United States beach town braces for powerful Hurricane Florence

United States beach town braces for powerful Hurricane Florence

A man runs past a mandatory evacuation sign before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

Forecasters say Florence, the first major hurricane to take direct aim at the US mainland this year, could batter coastal areas with whipping winds, torrential rain and storm surges as high as 9 feet. Its new path indicates that after arriving in the area near Wilmington, North Carolina, the storm will dip to the south before resuming a western course, the FWS explained in the statement.

"But I'm staying", she said.

"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful".

The National Hurricane Center said Florence had maximum sustained winds of about 175 kilometers per hour (108 mph) early Thursday, and that it would maintain about that level until the center of the storm makes landfall.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperiled Georgia, too.

Scientists hypothesize that a warmer world will bring slower storms, so what we saw last year with Harvey - and now this year with Florence - could be a sign of those changes.

The Carolinas and Virginia will be smashed with the life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain.

But the hurricane center said it is "still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the US coast late Thursday and Friday". In South Carolina, close to the Georgia line, Beaufort County emergency chief Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

"While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane as it approaches the US coast".

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Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings.

Latest NOAA maps show the storm will be just off the coast by 8am AST on Thursday, with an 80 percent chance of 40mph winds or higher smashing coastal towns.

"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said.

North Carolina has had this problem before.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

By 8pm Thursday evening, the storm will veer off in a southwesterly direction away from Virginia and into SC.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore.

Evacuating institutionalized people ahead of a storm is always a challenge, but failing to do so can prove deadly.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you". And while the Carolinas prep for Florence tomorrow, there are others in the Atlantic - and a tropical storm near Hawaii - that also pose danger as 2018's Atlantic hurricane season reaches its peak.

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