More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

While wind speeds dropped Thursday, forecasters reminded people that what makes Florence extremely risky are the potentially deadly storm surges, the expected mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall.

"While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States' fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million", AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.

The surge in power outages along the coast is the result of gusts coming off Hurricane Florence and knocking trees into power lines, said Lisa Crawley, a spokeswoman for the co-ops.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images A flooded street in New Bern.

Rain begins to fall as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 13, 2018.

Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 100 miles per hour winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that has since been downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a hotel in Wilmington several miles inland.

Fema administrator Brock Long told Thursday morning's news conference that while Florence's wind speed had dipped, its wind field had expanded and total rainfall predictions were unchanged.

Hundreds of people are awaiting rescue from their homes as flood waters continue to rise from Hurricane Florence.

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. And because Hurricane Florence has the potential to stall, it could inflict a lot more damage and cause more severe flooding in North Carolina than Floyd did 19 years ago.

Stephen Colbert fact-checks Trump's Puerto Rico hurricane comments
Florence is forecast to dump up to a metre of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and SC . Puerto Rico's government is run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party.

"Your time is running out", he warned. "The ocean is going to start rising".

About 10 million people live in areas that have been under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings and watches. "I can not emphasise that enough".

What's the situation on the ground?

Storm surge isn't the only worry associated with the storm, either.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water, Reuters reports.

Emergency workers are arriving from other parts of the USA to aid in rescues.

Even if a house is elevated 10 feet (3 meters), with that kind of storm surge, "there's a good chance there's going to be water inside of it", Needham said.

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.

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