Flooding from rain and storm surges are the biggest threat. As of 5 a.m., its maximum wind speeds remain at 110 miles per hour as it started to ingest drier air, says FOX 13’s meteorologist Tyler Eliasen, however, it also means Florence’s wind field has grown larger.
The storm’s centre was about 180km east of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 2pm local time (18:00 GMT) but tropical storm-strength winds and heavy rains already were hitting North Carolina’s Outer Banks barrier islands.
“I’m not approaching Florence from fear or panic”, said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington. “Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience”.
Hurricane Florence is one of the first major Atlantic hurricanes scheduled to make landfall in 2018.
Hurricane Florence continues to snarl travel in the Southeast as it closes in on the Carolinas, affecting more than a dozen transportation hubs there and in other parts of the region.
More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate along 300 miles of coastline.
The shelter had been set up in a school and was offering temporary refugee from the elements to around 400 people on Thursday, although it had a capacity for up to 1,200 in the popular seaside resort.
Prisoners were affected, too.
“It truly is really about the whole size of the storm”, said National Hurricane Center head Ken Graham. Here’s why this storm threatens not only the coast but millions of people inland.
You may have heard about Hurricane Florence, the storm careering towards the United States east coast prompting warnings of an impending disaster.
Images of fishing piers at Atlantic Beach, North Topsail Beach, and Emerald Isle showed waves pounding the wooden structures. The forecasters say the slow speed will give Florence time to pound the Carolinas with bands of heavy rain.
How much rain with North Carolina and SC receive? Hurricane Florence’s path is hitting many counties where fewer than 5% of people have flood insurance.
Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland. The storm is expected to linger, dumping several centimeters of rain in affected areas and causing widespread destruction. It had been projected to shift north after making landfall.
The NHC said Florence is expected to be an “extremely unsafe major hurricane” when it makes landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday, bringing life-threatening storm surge to coastal areas.
Florence could do more than $170bn (£130bn) of damage and affect almost 759,000 homes and businesses, says analytics firm CoreLogic.
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the country’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside Trump, FEMA administrator Brock Long said Hurricane Florence may be a “very devastating storm”.
“It doesn’t matter where you are”, he said.
Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won’t go out to help in winds above 80 km/h.