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US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence

US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence

Every coastal city along the Gulf or East Coast of the US is at risk of storm surge, the hurricane center said.

An extremely powerful hurricane is forecast to make landfall in the southern part of the United States later this week.

A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at 105 miles per hour, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

Just days before projected landfall, Hurricane Florence is sending residents of the Carolina coast racing for cover.

The numbers are expected to soar as the storm's winds and torrential rains sweep over more land. Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed.

Forecasters say Florence, the first major hurricane to take direct aim at the USA mainland this year, could batter coastal areas with whipping winds, torrential rain and storm surges as high as 9 feet.

The destructive storm surge will occur as the hurricane's eye comes ashore from Thursday night into Friday, the Weather Channel said, and coastal flooding may persist through multiple high tide cycles into this weekend east of the center of Florence.

Wilmington, just north of where Florence appeared headed for shore, grew empty and quiet on Wednesday. Farmers are moving hogs to high ground.

"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is fantastic and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighbourhood.

Storm chaser records Florence battering Carolina coast
But Florence's forward movement had slowed to a crawl, and it piled on the rain in a siege that could go on all weekend long. The eye of Florence, a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph sustained winds , was 25 miles east of Wilmington at 5 a.m.

Authorities in New Bern said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

Usually when a storm approaches the coast, forecasters can tell with ever-increasing accuracy who will get walloped. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

The storm was heading for the coast of the two states but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings. Up to 3 inches of rainfall are expected for parts of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and Haiti, possibly causing life-threatening flash flooding.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

More than 20,000 people were in 157 shelters in North Carolina, with 7,000 more in SC shelters.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore. It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. The area is contending with rising floodwaters as Hurricane Florence brings storm surge and rain into the low-lying town. Maximum sustained winds are near 110 miles per hour (175 km/h) with higher gusts.

The storm will arrive on the East Coast sometime Thursday and linger for several days, forecasters say.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles". He said all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.

"This is our only home".


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