Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Science | By

Hurricane Florence: 1000mm of rain forecast for North, South Carolina

Hurricane Florence: 1000mm of rain forecast for North, South Carolina

"We'll handle it. We're ready, we're able".

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

Up to 1.7 million people are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents were frantically boarding up homes and businesses and hitting the road on Wednesday as the storm approached.

Slower hurricanes - such as Hurricane Harvey - can dump more rain on an area before moving on, adding to their destructive power.

Hurricane Florence is on track to blast the southeastern US coast with ferocious winds and rain, but it may also swamp hog manure pits and coal ash dumps, spreading their toxins; as well as inundate nuclear reactors in the region, according to news reports.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's center reaching the coast Friday.

Jeff Byard of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said. This change has major implications on the storm's impact, as a stalled hurricane would bring a prolonged period of hurricane force winds and pounding surf to the coastline along with extremely heavy rain with widespread amounts of 10-20 inches and localized amounts upwards of 40 inches possible, the weather forecaster said.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.

The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow for a smooth flow of traffic inland.

"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house", Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto.

In Fayetteville, a North Carolina city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles inland, authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear River and Little River to get out of their homes by Sunday afternoon because of the flood risk.

"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said. "We've just never seen anything like this".

Kevin Miller, a 50-year-old electrician, said he planned to ride out the storm at his home near Charleston.

"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989.

The storm's direction, moving straight into the coast at a perpendicular angle rather than along it, increases the severity of the storm surge, Young said. "I was in the same house and it stood fine". "Disaster is at the doorstep and it's coming in".

"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".

The similarly routed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, with a path originating in West Virginia, passing through Virginia and into North Carolina, is also girding for Florence's effects.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore.

The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

The storm surge, or wind-driven seawater, poses a huge danger, FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned on ABC's "Good Morning America".

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