Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Airlines Waiving Change Fees Ahead of Hurricane Florence

Airlines Waiving Change Fees Ahead of Hurricane Florence

North Carolina's governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation for the state's barrier islands as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.

As of Tuesday, storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued along the southeast USA coast from parts of Florida to Cape Cod, MA. Tropical storm force winds have sustained speeds of at least 39 miles per hour.

With little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane wind field is expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats.

The last Category 4 hurricane to plough directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes. "Additional watches may be required later today".

Storm surge is basically a wall of water that could swallow parts of the coast.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone who may be affected by this storm", UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement.

Florence may grow to a Category 5 hurricane by the time it hits the North Carolina coast early Friday morning. Florence will likely weaken to a Category 1 storm Friday or Saturday.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Isaac, packing winds of 75 miles per hour (mph) located near latitude 14.7 North, longitude 43.9 West and moving toward the west near 14 mph.

Florence is still a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to regain its top wind strength in the next day or so.

The center is predicting "tropical force winds" - in the 39 to 73 mph range - would reach the coast by late Wednesday and move inland within 24 hours.

The International Space Station tweeted this video early Thursday, showing the powerful storm from space.

Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 50cm of rain, if not more, with as much as 25cm elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Large cities and towns that lie within the most threatened zone include Jacksonville, Greenville, New Bern, Morehead City and Kinston, says the center. "So will the power lines, as the trees fall down". That could result serious flooding and wind damage for cities including Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina, and Columbia in SC.

Although the storm's winds will likely diminish rapidly after making landfall, the heavy rain will persist as it stalls over portions of North Carolina and Virginia.

Norcross said the soggy summer will exacerbate the flooding: "And then you add to that the fact that they've had very heavy rain in the mid-Atlantic this year already, and the ground is quite saturated", he said.

Evacuations in Dare County began Monday and are expected to continue, and officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have canceled classes and activities for the remainder of the week to allow students and staff to evacuate if they so choose. Other counties are evacuating low lying and flood prone areas.

Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Florence in Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Wednesday, Beaufort County schools will remain closed Wednesday.

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