Hurricane Florence puts 10M in crosshairs for historic surge; makes move toward Carolinas
Residents along the Carolina Coast on Thursday were preparing for Hurricane Florence as the massive Category 2 storm continues on its path northwest at 18 mph.
Officials say the storm will pack a severe punch and bring a region with 10 million people a 'deadly' storm surge, historic flooding and catastrophic winds.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?"
- Jeff Byard, a FEMA administrator
The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore. Authorities warn that Florence has enormous wind field that has been growing larger.
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"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Storm surge flooding has accounted for nearly half of the deaths associated with tropical cyclones over the past 50 years. 🌊
Heed this important message from @NHC_Surge or if you know someone who lives in the Carolinas...please share this message with them.
Given the rarity of the magnitude of #Florence's storm surge forecast, it can be ha
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The storm surge is "one of the deadliest hazards of hurricanes," as well as the associated inland rainfall, David Novak, director of NOAA's Weather Prediction Center, said. He said one in four deaths in these types of storms are caused by the extreme rainfall.
TRACK HURRICANE FLORENCE'S PATH HERE
Most of the deaths are associated with vehicles, Novak said, warning residents that see flooded roadways to "please, turn around, don't drown," and don't attempt to cross roadways.
About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.
Florence was about 235 miles east southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and about 280 miles east southeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving northwest at 17 mph, as of 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to the NHC.
VIDEO UPDATE: Director of the Weather Prediction Center describes what you can expect with #HurricaneFlorence..."Rainfall forecast from Hurricane Florence rivals state records"
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"If you are in these areas, eastern North Carolina, eastern South Carolina, and you've been told to evacuate," Novak said, "please do not think you can ride this one out. That would be a deadly decision."
Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall, the NHC said, with 20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches, in coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South Carolina. This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant riverflooding, the hurricane center said.
Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean reports.
The rest of South and North Carolina into southwest Virginia is expected to produce 6 to 12 inches of rainfall, isolated 24 inches, the NHC said.
HURRICANE FLORENCE STRENGTHENS IN ATLANTIC: TIPS TO PREPARE FOR THE STORM
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
"If you are in these areas, eastern North Carolina, eastern South Carolina, and you've been told to evacuate, please do not think you can ride this one out. That would be a deadly decision."
- David Novak, director of NOAA's Weather Prediction Center
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.
Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty and storm stress. It's undertain where exactly Florence will make landfall, after a shift in its track put more of the Southeast in danger.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, reacting to that possibility of a more southerly track, declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.
South Carolina's beach towns are more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast.
Forecasters worried the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. 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."
Five percent of gas stations in North Carolina were out of gas (one in 10 gas stations in Wilmington and Raleigh-Durham), while 2.1 percent in South Carolina and 1 percent in Virginia were out.
Groups from around the United States jump into the action to help the Carolinas as the region braces for Hurricane Florence.Video
Americans from around the nation offer help to the Carolinas
North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs.
HURRICANE FLORENCE EMERGENCY CONTACTS TO NOTE AS STORM HITS EAST COAST
Florence's heavy rains could cause an environmental disaster if waste from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites wash into homes or threaten drinking water supplies.
Airlines had also canceled nearly 1,000 flights and counting.