Tropical bands from Florence begin lashing Carolinas

Hurricane Florence North Carolina map

Hurricane Florence North Carolina map

Forecasters are predicting as much as 40in of rain in some localized areas.

The storm surge - often the most perilous risk to life posed by any hurricane - is expected to inundate areas along the coast with saltwater that's 9 to 13 feet deep, from Cape Fear, N.C., to Cape Lookout, N.C.

With more than 1,500 commercial airline flights in and out of the Carolinas canceled - and potentially many more to come - even the skies above sat empty, except for Florence's foreboding cloud cover and rapidly strengthening rain.

Heavy bands of rain and tropical storm force winds are sweeping across the barrier islands off North Carolina and along the southeastern coast of the state. "It's an extremely unsafe, life-threatening, historic hurricane".

The storm's eye was about 145 miles southeast of Wilmington as of 11 a.m., the briefing said.

And don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane.

By early evening, almost 70,000 residents were without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

"Little change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland", the briefing said.

"A lot of people left this morning, because they said it was down to Category Two but a Two can still do a lot of damage", she said, noting that even in the lower classification, Florence's winds would be buffeting at 161 kilometers per hour. "Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together".

The first large power outage in the Wilmington area also occurred Thursday morning, with the Duke outage map showing almost 1,400 customers in the Acme-Delco area of Columbus County and northwest Brunswick County without power. People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm.

There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said. "It's something we haven't seen. ever". Being able to analyze the weather and future climate of an area using the physically-based techniques proposed by Emanuel could enable better decision-making with respect to land development. "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.

Despite the surge, a storm surge warning has been discontinued north of Duck in North Carolina.

A graphic of Hurricane Florence's path, generated today (Sept. 12) at 2 p.m. ET by the National Hurricane Center, shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow).

Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100mph as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140mph earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4.

Maryland's largest natural gas and electric company, BGE, said it was also preparing for the storm.

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