Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Science | By

'Historic storm' lashes Carolinas with heavy rain, floods

'Historic storm' lashes Carolinas with heavy rain, floods

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border and makes its way slowly inland.

In South Carolina, officials urged residents to prepare for wind, rain, extended power outages, downed trees and even potential mudslides as the storm hovers over the state and dumps millions of gallons of rainwater, as Hurricane Harvey did in the Houston area past year. Southeast, is expected to make landfall in the coming hours.

The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Thursday night that a storm surge of 10 feet above normal level had already been reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C. Rainfall of up to 40 inches could occur in isolated areas of North and SC.

Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Bill Berlino, 83, said he was skeptical of the news reports he's seen about the hurricane.

Most of the midweek brought clouds and rain to southern New England.

At 11 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), the hurricane center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour (75 km per hour) and continued to produce catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas.

Officials pleaded with residents across the Carolinas to treat the storm as a deadly threat. And even though meteorologists sort storms into categories by the strength of their winds, it's actually the storm surge that's most unsafe, as AccuWeather reported.

The forecasters have also warned that the expected rainfall could reach up to 40 inches and the storm is expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north.

Emergency officials on Wrightsville Beach were able to assess the beginning impacts of Hurricane Florence before day turned to night Thursday.

A mother and baby were killed after a tree fell on the family's Wilmington, NC house during the storm. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

At the time of writing, over 116,000 people were watching the storm approach the tower, which "is a privately owned surplus Coast Guard Light Station", that also doubles as a "unique adventure bed & breakfast" when the weather is more appropriate.

The path of Hurricane Florence sees it going over some of the poorest areas on the eastern seaboard. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian Mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Young, who heads the Western Carolina University program in partnership with Duke, has been studying the coast on many front including helping coastal communities plan for sea level rise and hurricanes.

"The idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more. once you leave, you don't know how many days it will be before you can return", a Wilmington resident named Kate tells VOA.

"But once we get to that nine foot range this is an absolute life threatening scenario", she said.

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.

"Now's the time when we stop projecting and we just sit back and watch", says Young.

"We've ridden out a couple of them, but this one anxious us", Barfield said, explaining the history of her circa 1906 home. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

Florence is forecast to significantly weaken as it crawls across central South Carolina Saturday.

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