Hurricane Florence to 'bring Mike Tyson punch to Carolina coast'

TD Bank

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Florence had racked up winds of 130mph and is on a trajectory which suggests its centre is most likely to hit the south coast of North Carolina by Friday.

At 11:00 am (1600 GMT), the eye of the storm was about 485 miles (785 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving in a northwest direction at 15 mph (24 kph).

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's center reaching the coast Friday.

Its trajectory showed its center most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by late Thursday or early Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

In Columbia, South Carolina, Barry Sparks, a 66-year-old retiree, was thinking of getting out after the path of the storm shifted somewhat to the south.

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday on Wednesday as the town appeared to be emptying.

As of Tuesday (Wednesday NZT), about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.

"So right now, we're thinking it's going to be tropical-storm-force conditions for the Beaufort area, but I would not rule out the potential for hurricane force winds or hurricane force conditions for Beaufort County".




North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents that time was running out to seek safety from what he called a "once in a lifetime" storm.

The storm's surge, the rise in sea water above normally dry land at the coast, could reach up to 13 feet at peak.

Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning. Residents in some parts of the Carolinas have been ordered to evacuate.

Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.

On Wednesday morning, the president urged those in the path of Florence to "get out of its way". "We are ready for the big one that is coming!"

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.

Moreover, high tides around noon and midnight these next few days will make the storm surges even worse, Samson said.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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