Hurricane Florence weakens, but still a strong flood threat

Randall Hill  Reuters

Several schools in the FOX8 viewing area have closings and delays this week ahead of Hurricane Florence.

The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then slog its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses and farm fields.

But the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening that the storm is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to the Carolinas as it approaches the coast Thursday and Friday.

Elder relatives carry as much weight as meteorologists in a tight-knit community of slave descendants on the SC coast.

While Florence is no longer considered a major hurricane, its reach has expanded, threatening residents from Georgia to Virginia.

Often the greatest threat from a hurricane is the storm surge.

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph). According to the National Weather Service, the waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction as the storm's motion.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be. "We're kind of at the mercy of the storm".

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Hurricane Florence, once rumored to strike as a Category-5 storm, will strike with less powerful wind, but it will drop much more rain on the area than initially expected.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said: "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the United States coast late Thursday and Friday". "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said.

Hours later, Mr Trump approved emergency declarations for both coastal states, a move allowing the release of federal funds and equipment to help protection and recovery efforts.

"But I'm staying", she said. "You can't stop Mother Nature". One North Carolina woman packed flowers to leave on her son's grave.

On another barrier island just below the Bogue Banks, Steve Harrigan reported live from North Topsail Beach, where visitors and residents were largely heeding warnings from Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) to evacuate.

Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

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