Exodus grows as motorists flee from 'big and vicious' Hurricane Florence

15 September, 2018, 02:13 | Author: Sherry Houston
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Hurricane Florence's potentially devastating winds are generating enormous waves as high as 83 feet as it continues to make its way toward the East Coast and insurers predict it will become the costliest such storm to ever hit the continental U.S.

On Wednesday morning, the storm was about 550 miles from the Carolina coast and remains a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. The latest warning extends from South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, N.C., and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, in North Carolina. The center of the storm will likely land between Brownsville and Rockport. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property".

The heavy rain expected from Hurricane Florence could flood hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites in North Carolina, creating a noxious witches' brew of waste that might wash into homes and threaten drinking water supplies.

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

Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

KHOU reports the storm could bring 10 inches of rain to isolated spots in South Texas.

"Between the lines: Hurricane Florence could become the strongest hurricane on record to strike so far north if it makes landfall north of the border between SC and North Carolina as a Category 4 or 5 storm".

The shift south and west will encompass more of SC and western North Carolina.

The shift in the projected track spread concern to areas that once thought they were relatively safe.

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With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bulls-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

On Tuesday afternoon, data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft showed that Florence's sustained winds had picked up in speed again, hovering close to 140 miles per hour.

The storm will pick up additional strength as it passes over ocean water with sea surface temperatures of up to 85 degrees, the National Hurricane Center said.

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

It said the hurricane was about 520 miles (820km) southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Wednesday.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount of rainfall", said Chris Landsea, head of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Centre.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring risky rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina and 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 metre).

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