Hurricane Florence lashes U.S. east coast, triggers flood warnings

14 September, 2018, 15:01 | Author: Darnell Taylor

The Hurricane Florence has began to unleash fierce rains across the U.S. southeast. And that's just the prelude to untold days of misery.

The head of Duke Energy Corp.'s North Carolina operations says it could take weeks to restore electricity if the company's prediction that 1 million to 3 million of its 4 million customers lose power.

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.

"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1".

Hurricane categories only consider the wind speed, Silverman said, and "a hurricane is so much more than just the wind".

Even worse: Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday. That's enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The National Weather Service warned that people should have their hurricane preparations in place Thursday before the storm moves in toward land overnight.

"It's cumulative damage", Myers said. When fierce winds keep up for a long time, homes are "going to start to deteriorate. So will the power lines, as the trees fall down".

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out.

US Southeast power companies said more than 188,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and SC were without power early Friday as Hurricane Florence caused a deluge ahead of its landfall later in the day.

5 a.m.: The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows little change to Florence's path or strength.

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Even though the one-time Category 4 tempest has been downgraded to a Category 2, it's still packing lethal 100-mph winds and the potential for 13-foot storm surges and 40 inches of rain, officials warned. On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were "able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space". They also have three dogs and three parrots.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

And there's no way her family could afford that - or the $1,728 per room another hotel quoted.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were told to flee. "We have a safe basement and generator that comes on automatically".

More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate.

"Your time is running out", he warned.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia - as well as the USA capital Washington. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you". Numerous flight cancellations and delays Thursday involved arrivals or departures at airports in Florence's path.

The impact is expected to be similar to that of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston area previous year, Feltgen said.

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