Forecaster: Florence storm surge not diminished

Forecaster: Florence storm surge not diminished

Even by major hurricane standards, Florence is a beast like no other.

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.

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.

Hurricane Florence, which has been labelled as the most powerful hurricane to threaten the Carolinas in decades, is scheduled to batter the region for over 48 hours with life-threatening wind speeds of up to 110mph and a devastating storm surge. Tropical-Storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles from the center.

North Carolina had 108 shelters open, and SC reported having 56 shelters open on Thursday morning, as the storm headed toward the coast.

Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Mountain Time, somewhere between Atlantic Beach, NC and Savannah, GA.

The result: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.

In total, over 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches and another 4.9 million people are under tropical storm warnings or watches.

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A flight-tracking service says about 1,200 USA airline flights scheduled for Thursday or Friday have been canceled, with some airports in the Carolinas essentially shut down.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount of rainfall", said Chris Landsea, head of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Centre.

President Donald Trump both touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way. "Don't play games with it".

"Once those high winds get will be very hard, if not impossible, for anybody to come rescue you if you are in harm's way in one of those zones", McMaster said at a news conference Wednesday.

More than 10 million people are under watches and warnings, the Associated Press reported.

Where is Hurricane Florence now?

Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. A high-pressure ridge over the Central and Eastern US is said to be blocking the storm's further movement along its original vectors, though it could still curve again once over land. One North Carolina woman packed flowers to leave on her son's grave.

Florence will unload up to 40 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina.

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Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty and storm stress.

Still, there are several other North and SC airports in the storm's path. "I hope we don't but that might be the only thing that would affect us", James said.

More than 20,000 residents have packed into North Carolina emergency shelters, and officials have told those still in the storm's path to stay in place. The worst of the storm will likely last into Monday for Charlotte before what's left of Florence will move to the north and west. Just because of the sheer size of it.

Residents of the Carolinas and neighboring states should consult local authorities for any evacuation orders and other preparation guidelines.

"I'm not going to lie: I'm scared", she said. The utility room of John Hembree and Scot Perkins' Chesapeake home has become a refuge for their neighbor's birds as well as their own chickens, three dogs, turtle and cat.

"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired non-profit director.

The powerful hurricane bearing down on the east coast of the U.S. has led airlines to cancel more than 1,245 flights and waive change fees for travellers affected by the storm, USA Today reports.

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