Florence begins to batter Carolina coast — WHAT’S HAPPENING

Florence begins to batter Carolina coast — WHAT’S HAPPENING

Additional emergency personnel from 13 states have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, including swift water rescue teams, emergency medical personnel, and others.

Hurricane Florence's winds began whipping coastal North Carolina on Thursday as the slow-moving tempest began to unleash fierce rains that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast.

McMaster warned that once tropical storm-force winds begin moving in, rescuers will not be able to assist people because the rescuers themselves will be moving to safety. Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach on Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane before being downgraded.

Gradually, Friday through the weekend, the massive storm - containing a zone of tropical-storm-force winds almost 400 miles wide - will drift inland, engulfing much of SC and southern North Carolina. Some of the storm's wind and rain could even creep into eastern Georgia.

The rain threat may not stop in the Carolinas.

A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at almost 170km/h, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

"So dramatic!" one social media user tweeted with the video.

The hurricane center also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore.

Another 70 people were rescued from a hotel in Jacksonville Friday night after Hurricane Florence threatened its structural integrity with its fierce winds. In fact, the NHC noted that the wind field of the storm has increased in size. Some 6,000 power outages had already been reported by 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area.

Smaller enclaves of Gullah, referred to as Geechee in some areas, are scattered along the Southeast coast from North Carolina to Florida. More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Like a bulldozer, the storm's winds and forward motion will push a tremendous amount of water onshore when it makes landfall. Its surge of ocean water could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet, and days of downpours could dump more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. "Once the weather breaks, it will be fairly obvious if there's a problem, " he said from Raleigh.

North Carolina has been issued with flash flood emergencies, with relief from storm conditions not looking likely until early next week.

- Edisto Beach to South Santee River: 2 to 4 feet. Floodwaters may enter tens of thousands of structures, and could make many uninhabitable. State emergency management officials are working to set up even more shelters where people can stay safe through the storm and even after.

Earlier, he said: "Please hear my message "We can not underestimate this storm. Anywhere from 20-to-30" of rain with isolated totals of 40" will drench the coast.

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2. By early afternoon, utilities reported about 12,000 homes and businesses were already in the dark. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the U.S. electrical grid. While all simulations show the storm turning back to the north Sunday or Monday, exactly where that turns occurs is a big wild card. The specifics of the track early next week will have implications for where the heaviest rainfall occurs north of the Carolinas.

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