Hurricane Florence latest: Powerful storm to hit Carolinas on USA coast

Hurricane Florence's onslaught threatens disaster in North Carolina

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing North Carolina would see the equivalent of up to eight months of rain in a two- to three-day period.

The storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a probable Friday landfall.

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river.

A weather station in Atlantic Beach recorded a total of 12.73 inches for a 24-hour period.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

The storm has already battered coastal areas with high winds as well as storm surges of more than 10 feet.

Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

The rescues began around 4 p.m. Thursday, Craven County spokeswoman Amber Parker said.

"We have Hurricane Florence just sort of hovering over the area right now and we expect expect it to continue doing that for some time".

Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".

Also, a broad area of low pressure in the western Gulf of Mexico has a 30 percent chance of formation in the next 48 hours.

"We expect the eye of Hurricane Florence to reach the coast near Wilmington, North Carolina, early Friday morning".

For more on Hurricane Florence, visit the FOX 46 Resource Center.

The storm was centered about 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 35 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"There is some damage. but it is still standing strong. We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.

Some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

Hurricanes disproportionately endanger those with limited mobility or means, as they are less able to heed evacuation warnings.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. Federal officials had said midweek they weren't concerned about that facility or five other nuclear plants in the storm's path, calling them "hardened".

And there's no way her family could afford that - or the $1,728 per room another hotel quoted.

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".

"I honestly cried", Kittrell said. "So since we can't find anything within our means. we've opted to stay". The flooding was caused by overflow from the Pungo River, she wrote. It's a kind gesture but doesn't alleviate Browning's fear. "But I think it'll be OK".

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate and authorities urged them to get going before the streets become inundated. At least four people were killed.

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management. Florence is nearing the coast and is now a Cat 2 Hurricane.

The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. Tens of thousands of homes are without power and sea water.

The county had been conducting water rescues since Thursday, Parker said.

City officials in one North Carolina community sent out an ominous tweet sometime around 2 a.m. Friday.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", Epperson said. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles. Hurricane Helene is veering toward Ireland and Great Britain.

As the storm moves inland it is expected to significantly weaken starting later today throughout the weekend.



Other news