Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

The Buzz | Tropical bands from Florence begin lashing Carolinas

The Buzz | Tropical bands from Florence begin lashing Carolinas

Hurricane Florence, a large storm with sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour (175 km/h), is expected to make landfall somewhere on the North or SC coast Thursday and then move inland, affecting travel along the coastal regions as well as landlocked cities like Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74.

Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening a bit - remains a "very unsafe storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the East Coast. Florence is now expected to begin delivering tropical storm-force winds in the region by early Thursday, escalating to hurricane-force winds by late Thursday or early Friday.

Businesses and homes in the storm's path were boarded up and thousands of people moved to emergency shelters, officials said, urging anyone near the coast to flee.

Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 225kmh to 175kmh as its outer rain bands approached the North Carolina coast early on Thursday.

"I said, 'Why get on the road like this?"

USA television networks said 7pm to 7am curfews had been put in place in several towns surrounding Myrtle Beach.

It's expected to stall around the South Carolina/North Carolina coastline into Friday night and then drift toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

FlightAware expects the number of cancellations to rise, although "the limited number of hubs being impacted by Florence will likely limit the scale of disruption that cascades through the national air travel system", spokeswoman Sara Orsi said in a statement.

On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area tonight and Friday. Life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern and central Appalachians late this week into early next week.

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Meanwhile, winds and rain were expected to arrive later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

Officials asked people along the Carolinas coasts to evacuate ahead of the storm, and that time for leaving has almost passed. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said. Meanwhile inland regions of the Palmetto State, North Carolina and Virginia are expected to see 6-12 inches of rain, with up to two feet falling in isolated areas.

Evacuation orders are in place in Virginia and the Carolinas, and about 10 million people are under some kind of weather warning.

North Carolinians made last-minute preparations and hunkered down to await Florence's arrival.

For some residents, evacuation plans were hampered by gasoline shortages.

A state of emergency has also been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

"We call them disasters because they break things", said FEMA's Long.

"We just thought we'd go out while we still can", said Amy Baxter, on a walk near the city's waterfront with her husband, two sons and dog.

Up to 75 percent of the utility's customers could be without power, and it may take "weeks" to fully restore it, he said.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometres) off shore versus heading inland immediately. "We're ready and God will watch over us". We will start to see Florence slow down a bit as the day progresses. "All I can do is put my hands together and ask God to keep me safe".

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School. "I've got four cats inside the house". The director of athletics at the University of Tennessee has announced that displaced families are welcome to come to its game on Saturday against the University of Texas at El Paso, free of charge.

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