The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast.
Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday. It is poised to slow to a crawl there and then drift to the southwest, unloading disastrous amounts of rain. Southeast, is expected to make landfall in the coming hours.
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"You are taking the ocean and raising it", said storm surge expert Hal Needham, director of Marine Weather and Climate in Miami.
Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. The center of the storm is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast by Friday.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said.
Now, many more people and houses are set to endure hurricane-force winds, which extend 80 miles out from Florence's center.
Terrifying as the situation is (I am regularly checking on my folks, who abandoned Charleston for the highlands of North Carolina), there is a silver lining.
Hurricane Florence has decreased in speed and is now a Category 2 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center announced shortly before midnight Wednesday. Categories only represent the speed of sustained winds, and these are still destructive. It was moving 10 miles per hour toward the Port City, the advisory said.
On Thursday evening, Florence's forward movement was just 5mph.
Even if a house is elevated 10 feet, with that kind of storm surge, "there's a good chance there's going to be water inside of it", Needham said.
This is an incredibly important thing for the public to be made aware of, because while hurricane reports often focus on wind speed, in the U.S., it's actually the storm surge of a hurricane that's most likely to kill you.
With the hurricane beginning to batter North Carolina, the state's Governor has asked US President Donald Trump for another federal disaster declaration beyond what he declared earlier this week.
"When combined with sea level rises and increased storm surges, an increasingly large number of properties face greater risk than exists now". Overall, the storm is 400 miles wide.
"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.
Two more strong storms are travelling through the Pacific, Barijat and Olivia.
According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the US mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians".
Duke has said it could take several weeks to fully restore power in areas that are inaccessible due to flooding.
The graph below also shows air pressure dropping like insane, an indicator that more powerful parts of the hurricane are coming ashore. The number is expected to rise, the flight-tracking service said. "We're about to be in the thick of it".
Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet (3.9 meters) were also forecast in some areas of North Carolina along with the possibility of tornadoes. Forecasters are also tracking two other disturbances.
"It will be historic", Baker said of the rain from Florence. "It's something we haven't seen. ever". However, meteorologists are warning that people in its path are still facing risky, life-threatening conditions.
"It doesn't matter where you are", he said.
Right at the top is about the 17-foot (5.2 metre) floodwater line is 1954 storm Hurricane Hazel.
Besides inundating the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 4m along the Carolina coast, Florence could dump 51cm-76cm of rain over much of the region.
"Your time is running out", he said. The area will suffer far beyond the immediate effects expected. Those winds, though weaker, are behind the biggest threats: storm surges and widespread flooding.
But authorities warned it will still be an extremely unsafe hurricane. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars.
New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.
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