Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Science | By

Carolina coast battening down, boarding up as hurricane nears

Carolina coast battening down, boarding up as hurricane nears

It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 miles per hour (253 kph) or higher. A storm surge warning was called for the coast between Edisto Beach, S.C., and the South Santee River, and the coast north of Duck, N.C., to North Carolina's northern border. Up to 15-25 inches is expected in many areas where Hurricane Florence hits.

Residents in hurricane evacuation zones had until noon Tuesday to evacuate.

The path of Hurricane Florence is still set squarely on the Carolinas, but early Wednesday morning, the storm's path shifted south and west, encompassing more of SC and western North Carolina.

"All interests from SC into the Mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials", the hurricane center said.

Forecasters are also warning the storm could linger for days after making landfall.

Mandatory coastal evacuations were in effect for civilians in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, but the military base posted on Facebook that different chains-of-command would decide whether to release non-essential personnel, and some relatives vented fears that they wouldn't be able to evacuate in time.

"It does look a bit similar to Harvey in a sense that it goes roaring into shore and then comes to a screeching stop", said MIT meteorology professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.

Packing winds of up to 220 km/h (140 mph) late Monday, Florence was expected to further strengthen and become "an extremely unsafe major hurricane" by the time in makes landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a 21:00 UTC update. Tropical storm-force winds would extend almost 300 miles across three states. It remains an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday night.


Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path. It could reasonably occur anywhere between the mountains and the coast.

If the storm stalls, some areas could see feet of rain, especially if downpours focus over the higher terrain in western North Carolina and southwestern and central Virginia. Hours upon hours of strong winds and heavy rain will weaken tree roots and make it easier for complete uprooting.

Parts of the Mid-Atlantic, especially from Virginia to Pennsylvania, have received 150 to 300 percent of their normal rainfall since May.

North Carolina is also evacuating prisoners and staff from low- and medium-security prisons that lie in the path of Hurricane Florence over concerns they won't be able to withstand the storm. All of those, however, made landfall south of where Florence is predicted to hit, and Florence's wind speeds are predicted to be higher than those four storms.

"This is not a storm that people need to ride out", Cooper told reporters. That includes growth ringing metro areas such as Myrtle Beach and Wilmington on the coast and Raleigh-Durham inland.

Hurricane Camille, in 1969, and the 1935 "Labor Day" Hurricane are the only two other storms known to have made landfall at that strength in the United States. Since 1851, only 10 major hurricanes have done so, and the most recent was Fran in 1996, 22 years ago. One power station, Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick plant, the closest to the area where landfall is forecast, faced a likely shutdown as a precaution.

"Interests elsewhere in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence".

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