Hurricane Florence evacuations expand, with 'disaster at doorstep'

Florence now a Category 2 storm, still dangerous - USA -

Hurricane Florence closes in US east coast; historic rain forecast

"A NOAA buoy located about 80 miles (130 km) south of the center of Florence has recently reported sustained winds of 52 km (83 km/h) with a gust to 64 mph (104 km/h)".

Once the rain hits the coast, it will accumulate very quickly, causing some flash flooding and eventually likely overwhelming streams and rivers in the areas that get the most.

In the latest information from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 event.

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County.

Hurricane Florence weakened overnight, but is still a powerful storm.

Scientists hypothesize that a warmer world will bring slower storms, so what we saw last year with Harvey - and now this year with Florence - could be a sign of those changes.

And in the path of where Florence is expected to make landfall, Gordon Reddick - also a hurricane veteran of Bertha, Fran, Bonnie, Hanna - believes he can wait out yet another storm.

Florence now a Category 2 storm, still dangerous - USA -
Before Hurricane Florence hits, officials warn of catastrophic floods and tell residents to leave

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 485 km ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

It is predicted to deliver tropical-storm-force winds by noon Thursday to North Carolina's coast, and hurricane-force winds and unsafe storm surges by late Thursday or early Friday. Florence has weakened a bit over 24 hours, but it's also grown even larger - and it will likely dump torrential rain over North and SC through Monday.

A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 150 cm for Hurricane "Harvey" in the Houston area, so "you start to wonder what these models know that we don't", said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane expert at the University of Miami.

"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said. Three college football games with Top 25 teams have been called off: East Carolina at No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 15 West Virginia at NC State and No. 18 Central Florida at North Carolina.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border. German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted pictures of the monster storm taken from the International Space Station along with the warning: "Watch out, America!" "We are leaving him our generator, but I don't think it's particularly smart of him".

In South Carolina, traffic along parts of Interstate 26 and United States 501 has been directed away from the coast.

The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse. It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

Nathan Deal of Georgia also declared one, joining SC and Virginia. And while the Carolinas prep for Florence tomorrow, there are others in the Atlantic - and a tropical storm near Hawaii - that also pose danger as 2018's Atlantic hurricane season reaches its peak.

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