More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

Nightmare Hurricane Florence Poses Far Reaching Dangers

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"A weak Category 3 and a strong Category 2 are pretty close to each other, if you just think about category".

Although the suggestive graphic was presumably an accident, it is somehow a fitting representation for a storm that has already been described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet" in a White House briefing from Donald Trump this Tuesday. Storm surge is expected to reach up to 4m, inundating coastal lowlands.

According to authorities, however, Florence still has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making the hurricane extremely risky.

Storm surge is caused in part by the brunt of hurricane force winds.

In addition to the life-threatening storm surge, Florence is also forecast to dump up to 40 inches of rain after it makes landfall in North and South Carolina Thursday night or Friday.

And then there's the major slowdown that's expected: as of Thursday, Florence was moving roughly 17 km/h, but once it makes landfall, it's expected to nearly stall, with its forward speed dropping to just 9 km/h or less.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that". That makes it hard to project how the region will ultimately be affected. We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding.

State officials and the National Weather Service warned the storm's weakening only relates to wind speed, not surges or flooding. His group, the Office of Water Prediction and Luettich's team are working together to build such models now.

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In the meantime, "treat the inland flooding just as seriously as you would the storm surge", said Clark.

"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years", said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy's incident commander.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

Flooding risks are also causing worries over the more than 300 wild horses living on North Carolina's coasts. REUTERS/Randall HillThe beach along the pier is empty ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

"If you're going to leave. you should leave now because time is running out", McMaster said on Thursday.

Hurricanes can push masses of water from the sea over land when they come ashore, raising local sea levels by as much as 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Hurricane Center. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.

Authorities pushed back against any suggestion the storm's threat was exaggerated.

"When that last ferry pulls out.it's unnerving to see it pull away and know, 'That's the last chance I have of getting off this island, '" she said Wednesday. "Many that will accept them only allow one per room".

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