Hurricane Florence begins battering the Carolinas

Mindy Sparks
September 16, 2018

Several airlines are allowing customers impacted by the hurricane to book flights again without paying additional fees but some fliers say that does not make finding flights any easier. It was downgraded to Category 1 before coming ashore on Friday near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing about a storm that forecasters said was 300 miles (480 km) wide.

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC could see 20 to 30 inches of rainfall; some isolated areas could see 40 inches.

If Florence doesn't wipe out oceanfront homes perched on stilts along the Carolinas coast, rising sea levels will. Florence is hitting low-lying barrier islands that experience some of the fastest rates of sea level rise observed anywhere in the world, almost an inch (2.5 centimeters) a year. A few hearty locals gathered at Cape Fear Wine and Beer pub in downtown Wilmington.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles". "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".

RMS Event Response Manager Tom Sabbatelli said Thursday that though Florence had weakened considerably, the storm was broader because of that weakening. "Don't drive across standing or moving water", the governor said, urging people to heed evacuation orders.

Cooper also points the worst of the storm is yet to come. "I just figured come here and be safe".

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm approached, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

Some homes and businesses may be washed away on the barrier islands and along the immediate coast near and north of the storm center along the coast by dozens of miles.

"A lot of people left this morning, because they said it was down to Category Two but a Two can still do a lot of damage", she said, noting that even in the lower classification, Florence's winds would be buffeting at 161 kilometers per hour. The National Weather Center upgraded Subtropical Storm Joyce to Tropical Storm Joyce in its 11 p.m. Thursday update.

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. In South Carolina there were 7,000 people staying in shelters, according to the state's emergency management office.

It's expected to move inland at southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina Friday and Saturday.

But forecasters have warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day - will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.

After spreading rain westward to the southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas, torrential rain is forecast to reach parts of the northeastern USA next week.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of the Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

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 then reconsidered.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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