Carolina Braces for Florence Storm Surge

A mandatory evacuation is in effect in preparation of the approaching Hurricane Florence

Florence has been downgraded from a Category 4 to a 2, but the storm surges could put the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet of ocean water.

Fears about Hurricane Florence spread south on Wednesday, with Georgia declaring a state of emergency after officials in the Carolinas urged people to evacuate the coast ahead of the storm's expected pounding winds and rain-driven floods.

As of 5pm EDT (10pm BST) Florence was only 100 miles east-southeast from Wilmington, North Carolina and 155 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The storm will have winds in the 110 miles per hour range.

Adding to concerns, forecasters warned the larger and slow-moving storm could linger for days around the coast, leaving many without power and supplies.

Dominion, which supplies electricity in Virginia and North Carolina, is warning customers in both states to prepare for a multi-day storm that could bring high winds, flooding and widespread power outages. Residents should expect to see higher tides than usual on the James and York rivers, as well as possible flooding and beach erosion.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that it could be centered over southwestern Pennsylvania by early Tuesday morning, potentially bringing more rain to Maryland and another surge of floodwaters down an already swollen Susquehanna River.

A zoomed in image of the eye of Hurricane Florence.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI.

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Brock, meanwhile, said the surges "are going to be a major problem way up into the streams and tributaries that come out of sound areas".

Because hurricane force winds extend 130 kilometers from the center, people on land will experience sharply deteriorating conditions long before the center reaches the coast.

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, South Carolina, Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

Rainfall will accumulate near 2 feet in North Carolina. "So just because the rain starts letting up don't assume everything's good and you can go back to your house in some low-lying area, and then be surprised by the river coming up". GOES-East is one many satellites in orbit tracking the hurricane as it approaches the Carolinas.

Residents of the Carolinas and neighboring states should consult local authorities for any evacuation orders and other preparation guidelines.

About 10 million people live in areas that have been under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings and watches. "All across the state of North Carolina and portions of SC, there will be extreme flooding or major flooding at least for a number of days to come".

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

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