Hurricane Florence hours away from Carolinas

Sea water was already surging ashore along the Outer Banks, washing over roads. But when it comes to water, the maximum wind speed matters less than the size of the wind field for both storm surge and the destructive power of waves moving onshore. Regardless of whether a system forms, they say heavy rain and gusty winds are likely along the Texas and Louisiana coast later this week.

Several prominent beaches along North Carolina's southern coast closest to where Florence was expected to pass as of Wednesday morning were under the mandatory evacuation order. So as you can see, they're forecasting a major landfalling storm - Category 3 or 4 storm at landfall.

As much as 40 inches of rain could fall in some areas, officials have warned. All that said, a saturated ground, even with tropical storm-force winds, will uproot trees.

Florence's sustained winds were 165 km/h, with gusts up to 204 km/h on Thursday afternoon. Some fluctuation in wind speeds are expected, and weakening forecast Thursday, but it's still expected to be a fierce storm triggering unsafe flooding.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, warning people not to be complacent just because the storm's winds had diminished. Widespread rainfall amounts could reach 152mm to 300mm, spurring flooding.

Florence, however, continues to threaten the east coast as a fierce storm that could trigger flooding as far south as Georgia.

The gradually slowing but still life-threatening storm is moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 kph).

Hurricane Florence has decreased in speed and is now a Category 2 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center announced shortly before midnight Wednesday.

Some 7,000 guard members are ready to mobilize in North Carolina, while 1,100 will be activated in SC. This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

It is very common for quick, spin-up tornadoes to occur during land-falling hurricanes.

But the biggest danger could be life-threatening storm surges. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, freeing up federal resources for storm response.

Wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues for airports in the coastal Carolinas, FlightAware's Orsi said. But the storm surge will be no less devastating for homes and business located there.

"Floodwaters may enter numerous structures, and some may become uninhabitable or washed away", the Weather Service warned. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.

  • Carolyn Briggs