'Time running out' for residents to escape Hurricane Florence

Gwen Vasquez
September 16, 2018

At nine feet of storm surge flooding - expected in parts of North Carolina such as Newport - the only way to survive is to move up to a higher level until the flooding passes. Chris Horne, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., says the best chance for the heaviest rainfall will be Saturday night and Sunday.

Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line. Water causes the most deaths during tropical storms and hurricanes, and Florence expected to cause risky flooding.

Florence, though downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained risky and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. He added later, "Most of the fatalities in these tropical systems is water".

Rain: Based on the 11 a.m. forecast by the National Hurricane Center, Charlotte is now expected to receive between 6 and 12 inches. The gradually slowing but still life-threatening storm is moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 kph). Tropical Storm Olivia made a double landfall in Hawaii Wednesday morning, first in west Maui then Lanai, KHNL reports.

After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.

Wind: Expect winds to start increasing as early as Friday. On North Carolina's Outer Banks, water flowed through the streets of Hatteras Village, and some of the few people still left in Nags Head took photos of angry waves topped with white froth.

A hurricane warning is in effect for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

More news: Carolinas face days more of catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Florence

The Hurricane Florence has began to unleash fierce rains across the United States southeast. Hundreds of thousands of people have already evacuated.

"Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials..."

"But forecasts for life-threatening storm surge and rain-induced flooding have not changed!"

Forecasters say Florence will likely turn to the west-northwest and west and slow down its forward motion - a situation that will bring even more rainfall to the area. The storm is moving northwest at 17 miles per hour (27 kph).

The hurricane is predicted to bring up to 40 inches of rain and 13 feet of storm surge. Storm surge flooding also could push 2 miles or more inland if Florence lingers for days along the coast. It then will move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC in the hurricane warning area later Thursday and Friday.

As of Wednesday night, Florence's tropical storm force winds were almost 400 miles wide - or the roughly the equivalent of driving from Washington, D.C, to Charlotte, North Carolina; or from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to St. Louis; or from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

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