Florence is now "only" a Category 2 hurricane. That won’t matter much

According to forecasters, the center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday.

FEMA has warned that while downgraded, the storm will still generate life threatening storm surge and rainfall in North and SC.

The storm's center was about 110 miles (180 km) east of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) but tropical storm-strength winds and heavy rains already were hitting North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands.

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. The storm is expected to stall out before moving to the north. 15-20 inches of rain will be possible in places like Raleigh.

Another 8 million people live in areas covered by hurricane and tropical storm warnings. Unfortunately, the Carolinas have been in this unsafe situation before.

At least 800 flights have been cancelled or grounded due to the storm's expected landfall, CNN reported. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island.

Heavy rains have been forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Large and risky, Hurricane Florence is drawing closer to the coast of the Carolinas, where it threatens to become the most intense storm to strike the region in at least 25 years, since Hugo.

The U.S. Naval Forces North Command also has deployed ships off the S.C. coast once the storm passes for recovery and rescue efforts, should support be needed, said Lt. Cmdr. In reality, Florence was downgraded by the National Weather Service from a category 3 to a category 2 storm.




By late Thursday afternoon, the Carolina coasts can expect winds topping 80 miles per hour.

The storm's possible track now bends farther to the SW and closer to cities like Jacksonville, but it's the delay and the possible repeat of a Harvey-like storm cycle that has officials and weather forecasters anxious.

On Instagram, parenting blogger Chrissy Marie, based in North Carolina, posted a photo of her kids' hurricane party, complete with bright pink balloons.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

Numerous communities throughout the region have issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.

"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said".

While Florence is no longer considered a major hurricane, its reach has expanded, threatening residents from Georgia to Virginia. REUTERS/Randall HillDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

The simplest, most common metric for the measurement of a storm's intensity is maximum wind speed, and certainly this matters in terms of pure destructive potential when it comes to, say, losing a roof or propelling debris through the air.

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