Don't Be Fooled by Hurricane Florence Being 'Downgraded.' It's Still Very Dangerous

Hurricane Florence impacting flights along East Coast

Hurricane Florence impacting flights along East Coast

Hurricane conditions are likely to hit the area around North Carolina's southern coast on Thursday night and Friday, but tropical storm conditions will arrive on earlier Thursday, according to the hurricane center.

While the storm may have slowed down slightly, it will still bring life-threatening storm surges, high winds, massive flooding and power cuts as it makes landfall on the coast of North and SC.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale but it is still packing hurricane-force winds of 165km/h, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

REUTERS/Carlo AllegriDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

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"Your time is running out", he said.

The slow speed will give Florence time to pound the Carolinas with band after band of heavy rain, causing "catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding". And 15 counties in North Carolina were under a tornado watch by Thursday morning, including: Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington Counties.

Rising tides moved closer to the dunes in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., on Thursday as Hurricane Florence approached the east coast.

"Just because we have a landfall to your south, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods, because the winds are huge around this system", NHC Director Ken Graham said, pointing out the wide risk of flooding.

Tropical storm-force winds will move into the Pee Dee and eastern Midlands on Friday, with strong winds expected in the central Midlands late Friday and western Midlands early Saturday, the National Weather Service reported.

"Residents in the path of these devastating storms should comply with all evacuation orders and other emergency instructions".

Normally when we talk about the potential for hurricane damage, we talk about the impact of storm surges and high winds - both of which are, to be sure, incredibly risky in their own right.

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Even with some weakening that is predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

"But I'm staying", she said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

It was 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 have not left now, you need to leave", McMaster said. It is updating its outages in North and SC in real-time. One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area.

"I'm not going to lie: I'm scared", she said. Harvey was an excellent example of how the rain from a hurricane can be its own tremendous danger, and there's no point in taking chances. "You can't stop Mother Nature".

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