But while the storm is predicted to pass near Wilmington, North Carolina, the majority of surge-related flooding will actually be to north near Pamlico Sound. “Our greatest concern about this storm remains the same – storm surge and massive flooding”, he said.
Keith Beavers, a farmer in Duplin County, North Carolina, was rushing on Thursday to harvest as much corn as he could ahead of the storm. There are about 150 people waiting to be rescued.
The hurricane is located about 165 miles (270 km) east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (165 km per hour), it added.
“This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding”, the hurricane center said.
Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts tells WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been rescued.
Luettich and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame and University of Texas spent 30 years developing ADCRIC, a computer model that gauges storm surge and other impacts of major coastal weather events. Gerst pleaded with people living in the area to heed evacuation orders, warning them there is a “nightmare coming for you”.
Hurricane Florence’s outer edges have started to batter the coast of North Carolina – with winds of 100mph bending trees and shooting frothy seawater onto the streets.
Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it’s winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.
Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his “absolute highest priority” and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington. It is expected that the hurricane moves on or near the coastline during the night of Thursday through Friday.
“It truly is really about the whole size of this storm”, National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), said: “Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that’s what we’re about to see”.
Even though the one-time Category 4 tempest has been downgraded to a Category 2, it’s still packing lethal 100-mph winds and the potential for 13-foot storm surges and 40 inches of rain, officials warned. But that, combined with the storm’s slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
Those winds will die down quickly as Florence moves over land, but the rain will persist.
Florence’s top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.