Millions flee east coast of United States as catastrophic hurricane approaches

Theresa Obrien
September 15, 2018

There are more than 25 million people facing the threat of the storm. Tuesday morning's forecast still supports this, the National Hurricane Center said.

SC lifted mandatory evacuation orders for three coastal counties as the storm's path became more certain.

On Tuesday morning, data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft showed that Florence's sustained winds had weakened somewhat from the 140 miles per hour speeds reported earlier.

NHC forecasts showed the effects of Florence would be widely felt, with tropical storm-force winds extending almost 300 miles across three states.

Although the focus on where Hurricane Florence makes landfall is drawing lots of attention, another looming threat could be the worst impact of this monster storm: disastrous, deadly flooding from days of relentless rain. The middle of the cone shows Florence coming ashore around Topsail Island - a slightly southern tweak from earlier projections.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for hundreds of miles of the U.S. East Coast, from Edisto Beach in SC up north to the North Carolina-Virginia border.

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and plan to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's eerily named Landfall neighbourhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm, with plenty of wine. "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion".

A Category 4 storm has sustained winds from 130-156 miles per hour.

Tall corn and tobacco crops are most vulnerable to wind damage and hard to harvest if knocked down, said Rhonda Garrison, executive director of the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina. But even the most secure homes could be surrounded by water, or penetrated by wind-launched debris.

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National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham warned that Florence is forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore. The storm was located roughly 1,170 miles east-southeast of the Cape Fear region, and remained a unsafe Category 4 storm.

Most low-lying areas of Eastern North Carolina are at risk, with up to 12 feet of flooding above ground level possible along the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Now, Hurricane Florence threatens to make it three out of four years that a major storm dropped heavy rains and flooded farms and fields with potentially season-ending devastation.

"It's well south of us", said Hubbard. "Any amounts of money, whatever it takes, we're going to do it". Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 500 millimetres over much of North Carolina and Virginia, and even 760 mm in some places.

"It does look a bit similar to Harvey in a sense that it goes roaring into shore and then comes to a screeching stop", said MIT meteorology professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.

According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, people caught in a Category 4 storm can expect to see "catastrophic damage".

"This is going to produce heavy rainfall, and it may not move very fast". Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.

The tristate area continues to be among the most costly for motorists, with New Yorkers paying an average of $3.00 per gallon and CT paying $3.04 per gallon.

In addition to Florence, the Atlantic Ocean now has two other strong storms.

Farther to the east, Hurricane Helene is now a Category 2 storm, but it's expected to curve harmlessly northward and weaken in the central Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the Lesser Antilles are watching Tropical Storm Isaac, which was downgraded from a hurricane earlier Tuesday.

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