Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Hurricane Florence Loses Steam, but Shifting Forecast Predicts Huge Rainfall

Theresa Hayes | 14 September, 2018, 00:02

"The larger and slower the storm is, the greater the threat and impact, and we have that here", NHC Director Ken Graham said Thursday.

Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic.

The storm's forward motion has slowed 11km/h since Wednesday (local time), which was predicted as the storm nears the coast.

About 10 million people live in areas that were under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings and watches Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, all flight operations were halted at a half-dozen airports along the coast of the Carolinas, and scattered cancellations were reported at other airports. Some fluctuation in wind speeds are expected, and weakening forecast Thursday, but it's still expected to be a fierce storm triggering unsafe flooding.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "And that will produce a lot of damage as well as prolong the beach erosion".

How much rain with North Carolina and SC receive?

Despite the drop in maximum sustained winds, forecasters stress that this hurricane is not to be taken lightly. Officials are urging others in its path to follow suit, or prepare for the worst.

Although the storm is approaching the US coastline as a Category 2 hurricane after weakening from a Category 4 storm, that doesn't mean the storm will be gentle.

The first large power outage in the Wilmington area also occurred Thursday morning, with the Duke outage map showing almost 1,400 customers in the Acme-Delco area of Columbus County and northwest Brunswick County without power.

The storm's eye was about 145 miles southeast of Wilmington as of 11 a.m., the briefing said.

One such tool helping hurricane-watchers keep track of Florence is the appropriately-named Hurricane Tracker app. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland will also be in peril. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge.

The surge will result in "large areas of deep inundation. enhanced by battering waves", the Weather Service said.

The National Hurricane Center expects hurricane-force winds to reach the coastline near the border of the two states by late Thursday or early Friday.

The hurricane center is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 80 miles per hour (130 kph) before landfall, but with rainfall in the 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeter) range and up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge. Some flooding was forecast early in the day for parts of North Florida, but those forecasts were adjusted later to include high swells and minor coastal flooding at high tide. Currently, the hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles from the eye.

Still, there are several other North and SC airports in the storm's path. Its wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land.

"This is a life-threatening situation". Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. "Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks".