Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

'Don't play games with it': Florence takes aim at Carolinas

'Don't play games with it': Florence takes aim at Carolinas

By comparison, Hurricane Hazel - which was a Category 4 storm when it slammed into the North Carolina coast in 1954 - caused an 18-foot surge.

Florence is now rated a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, but life-threatening storm surge and rainfall is still expected across portions of the Carolinas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday.

The time to prepare is nearly over, he said. About 1.7 million residents have been urged to flee from parts of North and SC.

"The big picture: There are several characteristics of the changing climate that are helping to increase the risks of damage from Hurricane Florence, even though global warming is not directly causing such a storm to spin up".

"Today is the last good day to evacuate".

Federal Emergency Management Agency associate administrator Jeff Byard said: "This is not going to be a glancing blow. This is more about rainfall", Panovich said.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 140 miles per hour (225 kph) winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

The storm was forecast to stall close to shore, pounding picturesque beaches along a stretch of coast which includes the historic city of Charleston. Upon its arrival, the National Hurricane Center projects that Florence could drop anywhere from 20-40 inches of rain along the Carolina coast.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of water.

This means some coastal areas will get damaging hurricane-force winds for more than 24 hours. A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches for Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, so "you start to wonder what these models know that we don't", University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy said. But that part of the East Coast rarely sees major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

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