Hurricane Florence Zeroes In On Carolinas, Bringing 130 MPH Winds

Hurricane Florence Shifts South as Carolinas Hunker Down

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service spokesperson in Wilmington, North Carolina said Tuesday night, according to ABC News.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion", the agency says.

Those warily watching Florence have compared it to Hurricanes Fran and Hugo, which pummeled North Carolina and SC, respectively, more than two decades ago.

The schools made the announcement Wednesday, citing the forecast for deteriorating weather conditions and Virginia's state of emergency declaration.

The storm made landfall Friday in North Carolina, bringing punishing winds, heavy rain and record flooding that drove some residents to seek shelter in attics or upper floors of homes. The storm is more than likely to develop into a tropical depression and bring several inches of rain to the Houston area.

Forecasters have adjusted Hurricane Florence's projected path, saying that after it makes landfall, it is likely to take a more southerly route than expected. Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

Cooper said Florence was expected to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.

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At 2 p.m. EDT, Florence, weakening as it moves inland at 5 mph, was 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington and 35 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, packing sustained hurricane-force winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

"An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft that was in the hurricane until just after midnight" recorded a peak wind gust of around 150 miles per hour, according to the hurricane center.

Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

Elsewhere in the nation, the East Coast is preparing for Hurricane Florence, which will be a major storm.

"A motion toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday", the hurricane center says.

In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina.

Some areas are expected to see between 20 and 30 inches of rain through early next week in the area shaded in purple in the second image above.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.

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