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Hurricane Florence Hits Outer Banks Home on Stilts With Storm Surge

Hurricane Florence Hits Outer Banks Home on Stilts With Storm Surge

The 400-mile wide storm is expected to start slamming the N.C. coast sometime Thursday night or early Friday, then weaken to a tropical storm as it drifts into SC, said John Quagliariello, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia. Despite the downgrade, Florence is expected to produce catastrophic flooding throughout the Carolinas.

Florence is expected to go move slowly as it approaches North and SC, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.

The storm is now 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

A now-weakened Category 2 storm, Hurricane Florence still is expected to be "extremely dangerous" and "life threatening", the National Hurricane Center said. "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week". Here's why this storm threatens not only the coast but millions of people inland.

Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were inundated.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill — sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk — and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

Storm surge is also the source of vast amounts of damage.

A gauge in the city of 30,000 people showed the Neuse River was recording 9.6 feet of inundation, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said. Virginia, in fact, has issued mandatory evacuations for coastal areas of the state.

A woman holding a child sleeps after being evacuated at Southeast Raleigh High School ahead of Hurricane Florence in Raleigh N.C. on Wednesday

Storm surge and hurricane warnings were issued for most of the North and SC coastline. Georgia, where governor Nathan Deal has now declared an emergency, is also thought to be in the firing line.

Almost 1.7m people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate.

About 10 million people live in areas that have been under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings and watches. Several airlines are allowing customers impacted by the hurricane to book flights again without paying additional fees but some fliers say that does not make finding flights any easier.

As has been the case with hurricanes in most recent years, such as Lane in Hawaii earlier this summer and Harvey last year in Texas, feet of rain can fall when these tropical storms stall. The storm packs winds in the 110 miles per hour range. Its surge of ocean water could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.

And of all those, storm surge is the deadliest. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.

In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later.

While the Piedmont Triad does not now face a direct hit, we are still expected to face significant rain.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

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