Florence by the numbers: Strongest wind gust in 60 years hits Wilmington

Federico Mansilla
Setiembre 14, 2018

More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles off shore versus heading inland immediately.

The powerful storm inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power.

That said, the storm is still expected to stall once it hits the Wilmington coast, with weather officials early Thursday raising the expected total rainfall for Wilmington to 35 inches - weather officials had predicted 30 inches for Wilmington in briefings released Wednesday.

Hurricane Florence - now a Category 1 - officially made landfall at 7:15 a.m. Friday near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., 80 miles south of New Bern.

Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as 3 kilometers (2 miles). We have wind and rain.

"This is an absolute life-threatening scenario".

The hurricane is expected to make landfall on Friday, with heavy rain and hurricane-force winds potentially lasting for days.

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Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.

"We're not the Grand Hyatt, but it's an option for people", said Mr. Brady, who thanked everyone for the comments on his post, which has been viewed nearly 1 million times.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. "This will be one of the worst storm surge events likely in North Carolina's history". Hurricane Helene and Subtropical Storm Joyce were off in the Atlantic, posing no threat.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia. The storm has already dumped up to a foot of rain in some areas, and it could bring as much as 40 inches.

Although the storm is approaching the USA coastline as a Category 2 hurricane after weakening from a Category 4 storm, that doesn't mean the storm will be gentle.

After criticism for its response in Puerto Rico to last year's Hurricane Maria, which officials there said was responsible for 3,000 deaths, Trump has vowed a vigorous response to Florence and defended his handling of Maria.

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