Just because Hurricane Florence weakened overnight to a Category 2 does not mean you can lower your preparedness – like getting out of the storm’s path now. To make the situation worse, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled – meaning far more people will get blasted with winds 74 mph or greater.
The Carolina coasts can expect winds topping 80 mph by late Thursday afternoon. And that’s just the prelude to what will be many days of wind and rain-driven misery, reports CNN Thursday morning.
What also makes this hurricane extremely dangerous are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding, and historic rainfall expected far inland.
“I don’t care if this goes down to a Category 1,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. “We’re still going to have a Category 4 storm surge.” Even worse: Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.
And now, many more people, houses and buildings are set to endure hurricane-force winds, which extend 80 miles out from the center of Florence. “It’s cumulative damage,” Myers said. When fierce winds keep up for a long time, homes are “going to start to deteriorate. So will the trees. So will the power lines, as the trees fall down.”
• “Rain bands with tropical-storm-force winds (are) moving onshore on the outer banks of North Carolina,” the National Hurricane Center said. Tropical-storm-force winds are between 39 and 73 mph.
• As of 8 ET Thursday morning, the center of Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
• Florence’s center will approach the North and South Carolina coasts late Thursday and Friday, but it’s unclear exactly when and where it will make landfall. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland will also be in peril.
•Strong winds will send rising water inland from the coastline of the Carolinas. The storm surge could rise up to 13 feet – that’s water inundating homes up to the first-floor ceiling, the National Hurricane Center said.
•At least 800 flights along the U.S. East Coast have been canceled Thursday through Saturday ahead of the storm.