Mandatory evacuations ordered in Carolinas, Virginia ahead of Hurricane Florence

Audrey Hill
September 15, 2018

While much of the focus ahead of Hurricane Florence has been on the coastal areas, weather experts are warning the Category 4 storm could bring catastrophic flooding and damaging winds to major cities well inland.

It said Florence is expected to be an "extremely risky major hurricane" when it makes landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday, bringing life-threatening storm surge to coastal areas. Eastern, Hurricane Florence was approximately 410 miles south of Bermuda and 975 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared states of emergencies. William & Mary has canceled events from Friday through Sunday, including its football opener against Elon on Saturday.

Liz Browning Fox was planning to ride out the storm on the Outer Banks, defying evacuation orders.

Bloomberg reported September 11 that due to Hurricane Florence's threat to the hog-heavy Carolina region October hog futures jumped as much as 2.9 percent on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Monday. As much as 10 to 20 inches (250-500mm) of rain is forecast from the Carolinas into Virginia as the storm stalls inland.

"All the rainfall we're going to have, plus you talk about the wind - that means a lot of trees coming down, it's a lot of power outages, a lot of impacts with this system", Graham said. Shutdowns also were possible at two more plants in the path of predicted hurricane-force winds. It's now predicted to make landfall somewhere north of Wilmington, N.C., before its center heads inland toward the cities of Raleigh and Durham.

The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warm enough to produce tropical cyclones.

Tuesday morning, Florence's top wind speeds were clocked at 140 miles per hour, and forecasters say it's still growing in size and magnitude.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions.

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But while wind speed offers an easily quantifiable way to rate unsafe storms, forecasters are warning people not to fixate on that, saying that saltwater from the storm surge and freshwater from heavy rains pose a serious threat, no matter what the top winds are when the hurricane makes landfall.

"The governor said that North Carolina is the bull's eye of this hurricane", Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, said in an interview. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "If you are given an evacuation order, please comply immediately before roads get clogged and chaos commences". More than one million residents have been ordered to evacuate from coastal areas of the three states, closing university campuses, schools and factories.

Governors of several states including North and SC have also waived certain trucking and transportation regulations to help prep for the storm - and be ready to take quick action once the worst it over.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said his state was "in the bullseye" of the storm and urged people to "get ready now".

Volvo has temporarily halted production at its SC factory as Hurricane Florence approaches the southeast coast.

There was little change in Florence's track during the 11 a.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

"In North Carolina, we estimate Travelers losses would be about $42 million for each $1 billion in insured losses, followed by Allstate at $37 million, Chubb at $25 million and Progressive at $21 million", wrote Citi analyst James Naklicki. East Carolina officials say they had decided the team wouldn't travel to Blacksburg due to "significant imminent safety concerns", including "perilous travel conditions before, during and after the storm".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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