'Threat becomes reality': Hurricane Florence begins days of rain, wind

Jan Cross
September 15, 2018

Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.

Florence was 155 miles (250km) east of Myrtle Beach in SC at 17:00 EDT (21:00 GMT), and is projected to make landfall on Friday at 08:00 local time.

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.

The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'm probably a seven in terms of worry, she said". Also, the hurricane-force winds and tropical storm-force winds have been expanding.

"I'm not anxious at all", said Richard Ford, 34, smoking a cigarette outside one of Wilmington's five shelters.

A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States, taken by cameras outside the International Space Station, September 12, 2018.

Now, even though Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has joined the U.S. Climate Alliance-a coalition of states that committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions after President Donald Trump ditched the Paris agreement last year-Florence is forecast to crawl across the Southeast throughout the weekend amid warnings from climate scientists that global warming is making extreme weather events including hurricanes more common and intense, and the 2012 law is eliciting a fresh dose of criticism. This is a powerful storm that can kill.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina, and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. The forward speed of the storm has slowed so the impacts will start to intensify and linger.

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Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity.

Florence is expected to go move slowly as it approaches North and SC, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad. "Today the threat becomes a reality", he said. Residents are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew and communities with financial struggles are slow to rebuild after a major disaster.

Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.

"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said.

Nationwide more than 1,000 flights were cancelled as Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, bringing near non-stop rain for days.

"We immediately gave up our hotel rooms so that more rooms are now available to those coming inland", Colgate coach Dan Hunt said. "And the vast majority of the time they are OK", she said. They also have three dogs and three parrots.

South Carolina's state capital Columbia is at only 89m (292ft).

More than 6,700 people spent Wednesday night in 127 Red Cross and community shelters in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, Red Cross spokeswoman Stephanie Rendon said.

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