Hurricane Florence continues path to USA east coast

NHC
The latest track of Florence as of Tuesday morning

NHC The latest track of Florence as of Tuesday morning

Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the USA southeast.

Tuesday afternoon, lanes were reversed on US 501 and three other SC highways as residents of the coastal area fled from Hurricane Florence, a raging tropical cyclone that is expected to deliver a crippling blow to a large swath of the Mid-Atlantic Coast and inland areas today (Thursday) and tomorrow.

There are more than 20 million people facing the threat of the storm.

Rick Leuttich directs the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Science Morehead City, and is one of the principal developers of the ADCIRC coastal circulation and storm surge model.

The Category 4 weakened slightly to 130 miles per hour in the morning but was expected to re-intensify later Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"We are in a very deadly and important game of chess with Hurricane Florence", he said. The storm's most likely landfall will be between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday.

At 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Florence was 575 miles east of Cape Fear, N.C., moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

As of Tuesday morning, hurricane force winds were extending up to 40 miles from the storm's center and "tropical storm force winds" were showing up as far away as 150 miles, said the National Weather Service. Florence was a Category 4 storm late afternoon Monday.




The centre of the titanic storm is expected meander Thursday, Friday and Saturday over a stretch of coastline saturated by rising seas, inundating several states and triggering life-threatening floods.

Residents along the coast in North Carolina, but also SC and Virginia have already been issued mandatory evacuation orders. That would make Florence the costliest storm ever to hit the U.S.in terms of property loss.

Further east, forecasters are watching Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac in the Atlantic, and a patch of showers in the western Caribbean, which has a 30 percent chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 2 days.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone who may be affected by this storm", UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement.

As Hurricane Florence continues to build strength and head toward the East Coast, airlines around the United States have started waiving change fees for travelers scheduled to fly in or out of potentially impacted cities.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster orders the evacuation of coastal South Carolina residents for their personal safety as Hurricane Florence approaches. "The forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain". Officials are urging residents in coastal and low-lying areas to prepare for strong winds, a deep storm surge and a very prolonged deluge of rainfall. That would mean more flooding rains across a large part of the U.S. South, expanding the damage, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. "Even if you have a slow season, it only takes one storm to really have an impact and cause a lot of damage". Shutdowns also were possible at two more plants in the path of predicted hurricane-force winds.

"We've seen nor'easters and we've seen hurricanes before", Cooper said, "but this one is different".

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