Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Hurricane Florence Evacuations Expand, With 'Disaster At Doorstep'

Hurricane Florence Evacuations Expand, With 'Disaster At Doorstep'

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday yesterday as the town appeared to be emptying.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said. The storm is forecast to approach the coasts of the Carolinas later today, before moving near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina in the "hurricane warning" area; now, that area includes South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

"Today is the time to get your preparedness actions complete", he said.

Hurricane Florence has changed course, according to the latest weather models.

Up to 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been given voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, according to emergency management officials, as the storm churned across the Atlantic Ocean towards the coast.

NOAA also released another video shot from Kermit, giving a more prolonged look at the eye of the storm. "While we can't attribute this hurricane exclusively to climate change, we do expect these types of intense hurricanes to happen more often as the world warms".

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less risky, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion.

The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night until landfall Saturday morning or so, about a day later than previously expected.

Farther inland across central North Carolina, much of Thursday will be mostly cloudy.

"Do not focus on the wind speed category of #Hurricane #Florence!" the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning.

The storm's winds may have weakened in recent days - they are now at 110mph (175km/h) - but there are fears Florence's slow-moving nature could bring different problems. "These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction as the storm's motion". The governor added that a million or more people could be evacuated before the end of the storm.

"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said. The warning also includes Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, large bodies of water in North Carolina that could also see significant flooding.

Devastating flooding appears likely for southeastern North Carolina. "We're going to stay tight and check on everybody", he said.

"This is a very unsafe hurricane", Mr McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary".

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency.

For anyone hoping that Hurricane Florence will be the only major hurricane of the season, residents of the east coast won't be so lucky. But the storm, almost 300 miles wide, is expected to pick up strength over the warm waters of the Atlantic before making landfall.

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