"‘Life-threatening’ Florence spawns first hurricane watches, could bring 30" of rain

Tropical storm force winds (39 mph+) and the first outer rain bands will arrive along the North Carolina coast Thursday morning.

A man walks a flooded street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Again, weakening doesn't mean it's not a big storm, this just means that we may go lower in category as the storm approaches the coastline.

Once the storm hits land, its powerful 130-mile per hour winds are projected to lessen to still potent 50-mph winds over the next day. It was moving between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before nearing the Carolinas on Thursday.

The NHC issued a hurricane watch for the coastal area stretching from SC up through North Carolina and into southern Virginia.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a press conference that the state is in the "bullseye" of the hurricane, according to The Raleigh News and Observer.

"It's going to be inconvenient, but we do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane", said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Those swells will propagate outward from the center of the storm, leading to potentially life-threatening surf and rip currents as far north as New England.

It could weaken on Thursday, according to current predictions, but officials cautioned Florence will most probably remain "an extremely risky major hurricane through landfall". While wind damage is still ordinarily covered, insurers that were stung by storms such as Sandy in 2012, which swamped NY and New Jersey, have inserted clauses in their policies that limit coverage and set high deductibles, particularly when storms reach hurricane status.

States of emergency were declared by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for the nation's capital; requested by Virginia's governor; and approved by President Donald Trump for North and SC.

Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Florence for all coastal counties in SC on Monday, including Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper counties.

Some South Carolina schools and most offices have been closed in Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, in advance of the storm, reports The Post and Courier.

But the landfall intensity of that storm was 250 km/h when it hit Puerto Rico, it added.

Among the things in Florence's path are at least five military bases (tens of thousands of troops and their families are evacuating), half a dozen nuclear power plants (power bosses have said they would be shut down about 12 hours before being hit), and numerous pits of industrial waste.

Rainfall could be up to 20in (50cm) in some areas.

Florence is on track to slow down significantly after landfall.

Transportation agencies in the District, Maryland and Virginia are deploying crews to clear drainage ditches, trim branches from uprooted trees, and prepare response equipment in anticipation of downed trees on highways and local roads, officials said. Some gas stations also ran low on fuel.

Some experts have warned the storm could be the next Hurricane Katrina.

Eastbound lanes on Interstate 26 were set to be reversed Tuesday to facilitate the evacuation of up to a million people from the coast.

  • Zachary Reyes