Hurricane Florence: Travel Begins To Snarl As Storm Closes In

The poorly organized, 45-mph storm is not expected to strengthen but should maintain its tropical storm strength for the next few days.

Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday packing winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) as an emergency management official warned the monster storm would deliver a "Mike Tyson punch" to the Carolina coast. Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states.

The storm was a unsafe Category 4 hurricane Wednesday but has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm Thursday.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. Vanotteren and his friend Bailey Gaddis said the waves have gotten bigger and better every evening as the storm approaches.

The National Hurricane Center says "a life-threatening storm surge is now likely" along the North and SC coasts as Hurricane Florence approaches the USA eastern seaboard.

While Barjat has been downgraded to a tropical depression with winds ranging between 32-33 miles per hour, Olivia, once a major hurricane, has discharged its strength on the waters and its winds reach a maximum of 35mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles from Florence's centre, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles. So potentially in this area of Southeastern NC we're looking at the highest rainfall from a hurricane on record. And when it comes to impacts like storm surge, size matters just as much as the winds, says Rick Luettich, a coastal physical oceanographer at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Institute of Marine Sciences.

The sheer size of the storm meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day, according to weather forecasters.

"When combined with sea level rises and increased storm surges, an increasingly large number of properties face greater risk than exists now".

The storm's center was about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a National Hurricane Center briefing.

Paige Sheehan, a spokesperson for local utility Duke Energy, told us on Wednesday that the company had 20,000 workers at the ready to restore power, but that it was warning customers they could be without power for weeks.

The graph below also shows air pressure dropping like insane, an indicator that more powerful parts of the hurricane are coming ashore.

By the time the storm leaves the region, forecasters expect that it will have dumped 50 to 70 centimeters of rain in coastal areas, with some parts possibly being inundated with up to 100 centimeters. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".

What also makes Florence extremely risky are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.

"This is a life-threatening situation".

These storm surges can cause rapid, devastating floods shortly before or after the hurricane hits.

It's incredibly hard to pin down a storm's precise death toll because of the myriad, chaotic factors that accompany a natural disaster.

United States television networks said 7pm to 7am curfews had been put in place in several towns surrounding Myrtle Beach.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

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