Science

Hurricane Florence brings flooding; mother, baby die after tree falls on home

Hurricane Florence brings flooding; mother, baby die after tree falls on home

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence reached North Carolina Thursday as officials continued to warn of the damaging nature of the monster Category 2 storm.

Hurricanes usually drive people away from Florida, but Florence is making the Sunshine State into a refuge for people from the Carolinas. A tattered American flag seen flying on a live surf camera at Frying Pan Tower in North Carolina is evidence of the strong wind gusts pounding the coast. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Nearly two-thirds of the reported outages originated in Carteret County, along the coast about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

Keith Acre of North Carolina's Department of Emergency Management said: "This has been a really large evacuation and sheltering operation, probably the largest we've done, so that has not been an east lift".

On Thursday morning, Florence was spotted 378 km east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 450 km east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving northwest at 28 kph.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to about 90 miles per hour by nightfall.

Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 900mm of rain, triggering severe flooding.

TRINIS living in the United States were vigorously preparing themselves for Hurricane Florence which is forecast to make landfall along the eastern coast sometime today.

But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast for days - will bring life-threatening storm surge and torrential rains. This is expected to cause "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".

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About 85,000 county residents are under mandatory evacuation orders, she said.

Wilmington resident Julie Terrell was plenty concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.

The NHC categorises hurricanes of category three and above as major storms.

Although Charlotte is farther inland than the areas expected to the get the brunt of the hurricane force winds natives say they are anxious about the rain and risk of flooding.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 225 km/h, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who made a decision to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.

There are reports of more than 80,000 people without power in North Carolina. He estimated around 1 million people have evacuated. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

"Every bit of data we collect helps", Waugh said.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate. "I've got four cats inside the house".


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