Still uncertainty as Hurricane Florences path moves south

Blanche Robertson
September 16, 2018

Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were ordered closed from Tuesday.

The evacuations continued as Florence weakened a bit in its charge towards the East Coast, downgrading from a Category 3 storm to a Category 2, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 16 mph.

"There is a chance it only potentially grazes the coast and just has most of the hurricane remain offshore, in which case it would continue to be over warm water", she said.

Last year's blitz of hurricanes was all the more unusual because the East Coast had enjoyed more than a decade of relative calm.

The last time the USA capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow. His state has already endured record rainfall, with much more forecast to come. As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.

"Florence is going to pose a triple threat of impacts in terms of high winds, coastal surge and then inland flood", said Steve Bowen, a meteorologist with risk management firm Aon Benfield.

A storm surge warning is in effect for South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

"Between the lines: Hurricane Florence could become the strongest hurricane on record to strike so far north if it makes landfall north of the border between SC and North Carolina as a Category 4 or 5 storm". Some of these reactors - including Duke Energy's Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina and Dominion Energy's Surry plant in Virginia - may be directly in the hurricane's path, Reuters reported. In a recent ranking, Millerick's institute found South Carolina's rules to be among the most up to date among hurricane-prone states.

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The National Hurricane Center says a buoy about 100 miles northeast of Florence's eye has clocked hurricane-force wind gusts and sustained winds of 53 mph.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding. North Carolina alone could get from 20 to 30 inches, with isolated spots possibly receiving 40 inches.

Moreover, high tides around noon and midnight these next few days will make the storm surges even worse, Samson said.

Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet (3.9 meters) were also forecast in some areas of North Carolina along with the possibility of tornadoes. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning.

But despite that exceptional cluster of storms, it's not that hurricanes are getting stronger or more frequent that's making them more expensive.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, but neither packs the deadly punch of Florence.

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