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Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 1:41 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 1:41 AM (IST)

‘Monster’ hurricane threatens US

Florence can cause inland flooding | Power could be out for weeks at some places

NHC downgrades it to Category 3 hurricane

  • Florence is now rated a Category 3, from earlier Category 4, on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. But life-threatening storm surge and rainfall is still expected across portions of the Carolinas, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday
  • The hurricane was about 470 miles (755 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said
  • Although slow weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is still forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it nears the US coast late Thursday and Friday, the NHC added
‘Monster’ hurricane threatens US
All set for ‘direct hit’ : People line up to enter a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in North Carolina on Wednesday. AFP

Wilmington, September 12

Beach communities in North and South Carolina emptied out on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence threatened to unleash pounding surf and potentially deadly flooding as the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on the states in decades.

Florence had maximum sustained winds of 215 km per hour and was on a trajectory that showed its centre most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by Friday, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from South Carolina, where some areas could see as much as 40 inches of rain, to Virginia. “This storm is big and it’s vicious,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on NBC’s “Today” Show on Wednesday.

“Flooding is a significant risk here and often when there is flooding the people who can afford it the least get hit the most.”

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 63 kph would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm’s centre reaching the coast Friday. At 8 am (1200 GMT) on Wednesday, the storm was located about 855 km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

US President Donald Trump on Twitter warned of the storm’s dangers and praised his administration’s handling of past hurricanes, rejecting criticism for its response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

To hasten evacuations from coastal South Carolina, officials switched traffic patterns so that all major roads led away from shore.

Communities could lose electricity for weeks, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said. Crews also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm.

The American Red Cross said more than 700 workers were headed to the region while shelters were set up to house those unable to flee.

The US Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City in North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia, to inbound vessels greater than 500 tonnes and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports.” — Reuters

‘It’s huge, can be seen from space’ 

In another manifestation of extreme weather conditions, hurricanes as strong as the Category 4 storm Florence are rarely seen so far north, the United Nation’s weather agency (WMO) said. A spokesperson for the WMO described Hurricane Florence as “very large, very strong and very dangerous. Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday. It’s a very big hurricane which can be seen from space.”

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