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- Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina.
- The National Hurricane Center warned of “life-threatening storm surge and rainfall” in the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
- The storm knocked out electricity services to more than 150,000 customers late Thursday night in Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Onslow, Pamlico, and Pender counties in North Carolina.
Hurricane Florence’s center made landfall in North Carolina Friday morning after it was downgraded to a Category 1 storm late Thursday night, with sustained winds topping 90 mph.
The storm knocked out electricity services to more than 150,000 customers in North Carolina. Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender counties were most affected by the outages late Thursday night, North Carolina Emergency Management reported.
“If you are in the path of Florence, please stay safe and take shelter today,” FEMA said on Twitter Thursday. “Communicate with family and friends. Let them know where you are and how you’ll stay in touch.”
The NHC has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for the coastal areas between the South Santee River in South Carolina and Duck, North Carolina as well as Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
Powerful waves and walls of water have moved inland, bringing flooding. North Carolina’s barrier islands, from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout could see the biggest storm surge: between 7 and 11 feet.
Much of the rest of the Carolina coastline, from the Virginia border down to Edisto Beach, South Carolina is under hurricane and storm surge watch. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from Florence’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.
“This is a very serious storm. The power could go out for many weeks,” Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Thursday morning.
Florence was expected to slow down considerably, according to the NHC, meaning it will likely sit over the Carolinas late into the weekend, pounding the area near the shore with rain.
Around 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said, per The Associated Press
“Storm surge is why many of you have been placed under evacuation, and we are asking citizens to please heed the warning. Your time is running out,” Long said.
Five states declared states of emergency ahead of the storm: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, along with Washington, DC.
Evacuation orders were issued in one of South Carolina’s four coastal counties. Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of the state’s low-lying coastal areas as well. In North Carolina, evacuations were ordered in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks, as well as other coastal counties, according to The Observer.
The storm could leave thousands of buildings flooded. Duke Energy, the Carolinas’ major power supplier, said up to 3 million customers could lose power, perhaps for weeks, according to The New York Times.
“This may be a marathon, not a sprint,” Cooper added.
The latest Florence forecast
Florence is currently a Category 1 hurricane, meaning it has maximum wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph.
Predicting hurricane paths is a difficult science, and there are still uncertainties about this storm’s track. But if predictions hold, Florence will move over South Carolina and western North Carolina, followed by eastern Kentucky and Tennessee.
The chart below shows the probability that an area that will see winds of at least 39 mph. The area in purple corresponds to a 90% or higher probability of experiencing those gusts.
Hurricane Florence is predicted to slow over the Carolinas, where rainfall totals could reach 40 inches.
Heavy rain, up to 10 inches, may extend as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, and Raleigh, its capital. The NHC also said the storm’s effects – including rain, high winds, rip currents, and tidal surges – would most likely be felt outside the “cone of probability” and could extend hundreds of miles from the storm’s center.
Sluggish or stalled hurricanes – like Hurricane Harvey, which flooded swaths of Houston, Texas, and the Gulf Coast last year – can become even more dangerous as they stick around, pouring rain.
These types of slow-moving hurricanes are becoming more frequent. Recent research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that storms had slowed by an average of 10% over land between 1949 and 2016.
Other storms are churning as well
There are three other named storms in the Atlantic right now. Tropical Depression Isaac has weakened, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.
Tropical Storm Helene is accelerating northward with wind speeds of 65 mph. Forecasters say it could pass near the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, over the weekend. A tropical storm warning has been issued for all of the Azores.
Tropical Storm Joyce was upgraded from subtropical status late Thursday night. It has sustained wind speeds of 40 mph.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific Ocean, Super Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to make landfall in the Philippines on Saturday. It has sustained wind speeds of to 180 mph, and could be bigger and stronger than Florence when it hits land. Nearly 37 million people could be in its path, and the storm has prompted mass evacuations in the Philippines and China.
Read more of Business Insider’s hurricane coverage:
- Hurricane Florence could dump up to 40 inches of rain on parts of the Carolinas – here’s why the deluge may be so intense
- ‘Watch out, America!’: Astronauts in space photographed Hurricane Florence, and they say the view is ‘chilling’
- Watch storm conditions on these livestreams of North and South Carolina beaches in Hurricane Florence’s path
- Eerie photos show empty supermarket shelves and desolate streets before Hurricane Florence hit
- The 14 most important things you should do to prepare for a hurricane
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