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

'This storm is a monster' - 1.7 million flee from Florence

'This storm is a monster' - 1.7 million flee from Florence

This way, if your home loses power during the hurricane, when you return home you'll be able to gauge whether or not the food in your refrigerator is still good.

The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then slog its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses and farm fields.

Hurricane Florence is expected to cause devastation when it makes landfall later today or early tomorrow, with "life-threatening storm surge" and intense rainfall.

As of 5 P.M. Wednesday, the "storm of a lifetime" continued to make its way toward the Carolina coast, with max winds of up to 120 miles per hour.

While Florence is no longer considered a major hurricane, its reach has expanded, threatening residents from Georgia to Virginia. And the more it hovers just off shore - a distinct possibility - the more potentially deadly storm surge it pushes on-shore.

Forecast models predict Florence's center may slow to a crawl just off North Carolina early Friday and make a southwesterly turn - punishing the coast while moving perhaps only 2 to 3 miles per hour.

Winds will be at least 100 miles per hour as the storm approaches the coast.

Florence is now churning through the Atlantic, only a few hundred miles off the coast of Wilmington, N.C.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", Epperson said.

Latest reports have the center of Florence approaching the coasts of North and SC on Thursday.

The Miami-based NHC stressed, however, that while a slow weakening is expected over the next 24 hours "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday".

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said.

St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma previous year. They advise people in this area to prepare for the storm and listen to local officials.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said. But it could have been worse: Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways. "Because it's Mother Nature".

Susan Faulkenberry Panousis said she has stayed on Bald Head during prior hurricanes, but not this time.

For the first time since since 2008, the Atlantic has for named storms simultaneously.

Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land, the NHC said, while Isaac could bring heavy rain to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.

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