LIVE STREAM: Tracking Hurricane Florence as it takes aim at Southeast
13 September, 2018, 23:29
"Heed the warnings", said Byard, adding there was "well over $20 billion" in FEMA's disaster relief fund.
"Since the track is slower and the storm will reside in the area for a longer period of time rainfall amounts are expected to be extreme", Reid Hawkins, science officer for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a statement. Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 105 miles per hour (165 kph).
"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful".
A state of emergency has also been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. But because the storm was so large it produced a destructive storm surge in New York City, and caused an estimated $65 billion in damage in the United States.
Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday. Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins". Forecasters predict it will make landfall between Thursday and Friday.
"As a outcome A FLOOD-WATCH IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR BARBADOS UNTIL 6:00 P.M TODAY, THURSDAY 13TH, 2018 A Flood-Watch means that flooding is possible within the watch area". More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area.
While Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm, officials warn that an extreme storm surge and catastrophic flooding are still on the way.
"We're seeing on social media, we're seeing comments and calls coming into our hotline that people are saying, 'Oh, it's only a Cat 2.' Well, only a Cat 2 has winds of up to 96 to 110 miles per hour", Derrec Becker, spokesman for the S.C. Emergency Management Division told The State on Thursday. "Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks". "Once the storm moves further inland to Atlanta and Charlotte, the biggest issue will be rain and thunderstorms", she said.
On Instagram, parenting blogger Chrissy Marie, based in North Carolina, posted a photo of her kids' hurricane party, complete with bright pink balloons.
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At 4am BST Wednesday the "monster" storm was centred 670 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph. Hurricane Sandy formed in the Atlantic in 2012, hitting Jamaica and the Bahamas as a Category 1.
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