Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Millions of power outages expected from Hurricane Florence across the Carolinas

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This Hurricane Florence weakens, US East Coast still on high alert | Infographics
Sandy Nunez | 16 September, 2018, 14:28

Hurricane Helene was gradually weakening and may become a tropical storm by Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday.

The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 120 miles per hour (193 km per hour), down from a peak of 140 mph a day earlier before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4. The destructive storm surge will occur as the hurricane's eye comes ashore from Thursday night into Friday, the Weather Channel said, and coastal flooding may persist through multiple high tide cycles into this weekend east of the center of Florence.

But authorities warned it will still be an extremely risky hurricane.

According to the latest Hurricane Florence satellite images, the massive storm is now heading towards North and SC and Virginia.

The storm is expected to approach the southeast USA coast on Thursday. The slow forward motion means Florence will batter the area with heavy rainfall, producing up to 40 inches in coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC.

He said: We are ready but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever hit our country.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.

U.S. media say more than one million people have been ordered to evacuate.

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages", cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

"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.

The country's No. 2 power company said Wednesday that it's anticipating 1 million to 3 million homes and businesses could lose power for lengthy periods, depending on the storm's track.

The storm was centred about 835 miles (1340 kilometres) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 7 mph (11 kph).

Forecasters expected some strengthening today, as Florence marches west-north-west at around 13kmh. The storm is expected to slow down, stall and then perhaps wander just off the Carolina shore as it nears the coast Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down for a direct hit in the low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

Nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston, but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.