Florence begins slow assault on Carolinas

Re-entry protocol for the area's islands will vary depending on bridge conditions and local requirements

A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States.

Authorities are warning USA coastal residents in the path of Hurricane Florence to evacuate now or be at the mercy of the Category 3 storm, which is expected to slow upon hitting the coast of the Carolinas on Thursday and ravage the region with storm surge, rainfall, and flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said that Florence is a Category 2 hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds.

Adding to concerns, forecasters warned the larger and slow-moving storm could linger for days around the coast, leaving many without power and supplies. The National Hurricane Center, which called these levels "catastrophic", has created a augmented reality tool that helps visualize how severe the storm surge could be. The storm's overall movement has slowed to 10 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to Category 2 storm on Thursday, but forecasters cautioned that the mammoth storm still poses a major threat to millions of people.

What damage will it cause?

"There's more to the story than the category", said Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.


Florence's hurricane-force winds were blowing 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached up to 195 miles (315 kilometers) from the eye. As of Thursday, almost a dozen airports have shut down, with more than 1,000 flights being canceled.

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. Water causes the most deaths during tropical storms and hurricanes, and Florence expected to cause unsafe flooding.

The storm was expected to become a tropical depression on Saturday and significant weakening was expected over the weekend, the NHC said in a bulletin. That's comparable to Hurricane Harvey, which according to some weather stations, dropped more than four feet of rain on areas of southeastern Texas. In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said the government "got A Pluses" for storm recovery in Texas and Florida and "did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico".

The police chief of a barrier island in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence is warning any stragglers who refused to evacuate that they are making a unsafe choice. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place".

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?

"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said.

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