Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Hurricane Florence Shifts Course, Will Make a 'Grand Tour' of Southeastern States

And that's just the prelude to untold days of misery. This storm surge can be deadly and then the flooding that will come thereafter with rain being measured in feet instead of inches.

Georgia joined North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in issuing an emergency declaration as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of rain - potentially 10 trillion gallons - on the southern states. Technically this means Florence is no longer a "major" hurricane, and may not be when it reaches the North Carolina coast early on Friday morning. "Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks". Categories only represent the speed of sustained winds, and these are still destructive.

"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm".

Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.

The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it continues westward into SC and Georgia.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina, and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

"It's cumulative damage", Myers said.

Marshall: You mentioned some hefty winds here in the Charlotte area. "There are approximately 800 line workers and tree personnel actively engaged in storm response preparations".

This same zone will be hammered by winds gusting up to hurricane force for almost a day while tropical-storm conditions could linger twice that long.

According to CNN, Florence's center will approach the coasts of North and SC late Thursday and Friday, with the actual landfall expected to come on Friday afternoon. The actual landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - will be Friday afternoon at the earliest, said Neil Jacobs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The hurricane center also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore.

Officials in the potential path of Florence urged people to evacuate their coastal homes and directed drivers away from the coast.

"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said.

By the time the storm leaves the region, forecasters expect it to drop 50 to 75 centimeters (19-30 inches) of rain in coastal areas, with some parts capable of receiving up to 100 centimeters (40 inches).

Some people who had rejected calls to evacuate the targeted area took walks along the water as they tried to enjoy a few final hours of normalcy before Florence's fury arrived.

"It's just extremely busy and it's even busier than a year ago and all at once", Blake said.

North Carolina has had this problem before.

Having so many systems moving across the Atlantic at once also complicates forecasting because they influence one another, Blake said.

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