Florence lashing Carolinas with heavy rain, flooding

A woman runs past boarded up and taped store fronts during the initial rains before the full arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Reuters pic)

WILMINGTON: The outer bands of Hurricane Florence lashed the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday, flooding roads and overflowing rivers in an ominous prelude of the damage the huge storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path.

Florence, downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained dangerous and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Centre said. It was forecast to make landfall Friday morning or afternoon near Cape Fear, North Carolina, bringing up to 40 inches (1m) of rain in places.

“Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she’s just about here anyway,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, warning residents to stay vigilant despite the downgrade. “Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.”

Florence’s maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 100mph (170kmh) as it spun in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140mph (224kmh) earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4.

The community of Avon on North Carolina’s Outer Banks barrier islands reported wind gusts of 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour), while Morehead City on the mainland coast had received 3.6 inches (9.1 cm) of rain in the past 13 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Already some roads and intersections were inundated with water, making them impassable.

About 10 million people live in the storm’s path and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia. Thousands have taken refuge in emergency shelters, officials said.

The storm’s centre was about 100 miles (160km) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 3pm EDT (1900 GMT) but already some 19,000 homes and businesses in the Carolinas and Virginia were without power by mid-afternoon. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

WILMINGTON: The outer bands of Hurricane Florence lashed the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday, flooding roads and overflowing rivers in an ominous prelude of the damage the huge storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path.

Florence, downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained dangerous and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Centre said. It was forecast to make landfall Friday morning or afternoon near Cape Fear, North Carolina, bringing up to 40 inches (1m) of rain in places.

“Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she’s just about here anyway,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, warning residents to stay vigilant despite the downgrade. “Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.”

Florence’s maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 100mph (170kmh) as it spun in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140mph (224kmh) earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4.

The community of Avon on North Carolina’s Outer Banks barrier islands reported wind gusts of 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour), while Morehead City on the mainland coast had received 3.6 inches (9.1 cm) of rain in the past 13 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Already some roads and intersections were inundated with water, making them impassable.

About 10 million people live in the storm’s path and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia. Thousands have taken refuge in emergency shelters, officials said.

The storm’s centre was about 100 miles (160km) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 3pm EDT (1900 GMT) but already some 19,000 homes and businesses in the Carolinas and Virginia were without power by mid-afternoon. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.