After a week of hype and hoopla, Hurricane Florence is finally here.
The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday (Sep 13) as forecasters warned the monster storm would dump copious amounts of rain on the US East Coast and cause life-threatening flooding.
MA will not feel too much of an impact from the chaotic storm down south, according to the National Weather Service: "The only impacts in southern New England from Hurricane Florence will be high surf and risky rip currents especially on the south coast through Friday".
In the 5 a.m. ET advisory, Florence was 205 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 15 mph.
UPDATED THU 5 A.M. Map shows probable path of Hurricane Florence.; 1c x 2 1/2 inches 46.5 mm x 63
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 200 miles from the center.
At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.
Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "sometime Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".
The forecast suggests as much as 40in of rain over seven days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the centre of the storm pushes its way over the Appalachian Mountains.
Forecasters are also warning of catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.
Hurricane Florence Approaches US East Coast
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded. "We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.
The menacing storm is packing winds of 110 miles per hour, indicating the storm has weakened to a Category 2, but NOAA is urging people not to mistake this for a lessened threat. "Don't play games with it". He said one in four deaths in these types of storms are caused by the extreme rainfall.
Evacuation warnings have been in place for 1.7 million people in the area. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres and sent in around 1,100 trucks to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.
The streets of New Bern were all but deserted Thursday morning as residents who had chosen to ride out the storm hunkered down for the imminent approach of Hurricane Florence.
Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.
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Officials have confirmed four deaths in North Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence . Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large waves.
The South Carolina record may fall too. Storm surge warnings, hurricane warnings, and tropical storm warnings are in effect along the coast of the Carolinas.
Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty and storm stress. "It is imperative that everyone follow local evacuation orders".
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.
We continue to keep an eye on Hurricane Florence as the storm inches closer to the southeast coast.
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Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?