2 p.m. update: Florence within 110 miles of Wilmington

Audrey Hill
September 14, 2018

FlightAware expects the number of cancellations to rise, although "the limited number of hubs being impacted by Florence will likely limit the scale of disruption that cascades through the national air travel system", spokeswoman Sara Orsi said in a statement.

Forecast models predict Florence's center may slow to a crawl just off North Carolina early Friday and make a southwesterly turn - punishing the coast while moving perhaps only 2 to 3 miles per hour.

Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.

The Category 2 storm was churning 110 miles southeast of Wilmington with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

As of 8am local time (midnight Friday NZT) it was centred about 275km east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 355km east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving northwest at 20kmh. "The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed". Author of "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast".

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the North and SC coasts, some residents are ignoring officials' calls to evacuate.

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US President Donald Trump both touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. REUTERS/Randall HillDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings are in place from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely unsafe storm for rain and storm surge. But because the storm was so large it produced a destructive storm surge in New York City, and caused an estimated $65 billion in damage in the United States. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm Carolina Beach.

By early Saturday morning, Florence is expected to have weakened to a tropical storm, and by early Sunday, it will be a tropical depression.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

In August 2017, Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 and practically stalled over southern Texas, dropping record-breaking rain in many areas and causing widespread flooding.

"Since the track is slower and the storm will reside in the area for a longer period of time rainfall amounts are expected to be extreme", Reid Hawkins, science officer for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a statement. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands face possible isolated amounts of 3 inches.

"What to do when a hurricane is barreling towards you, school is cancelled for the week, + kids are faaaareaking out?" she wrote on the social media site. It is expected to turn away from the U.S.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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