‘Life-Threatening’ Hurricane Florence Closes In On US East Coast
Emergency officials in the U.S. state of North Carolina are warning people to finish their preparations for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday before the storm arrives with life-threatening rainfall, storm surge and wind.
Florence has for several days remained a dangerous Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour during its approach to the U.S. East Coast.
Forecasters do not expect that strength to change much before it makes landfall late Thursday or early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
There is also particular concern about the storm lingering once it nears the coast and moves onshore, allowing it to drop torrential amounts of rain in certain parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. That is what happened last year with Hurricane Harvey, which brought more than 150 centimeters of rain to the Houston, Texas area.
The National Hurricane Center expects Florence’s rainfall totals to be around 40 to 60 centimeters, with some areas receiving as much as 90 centimeters of rain.
The soaked ground and fierce winds could bring down trees and power lines and knock out electricity for weeks.
President Donald Trump says his administration is “as ready as anybody has ever been,” to respond to the storm.
WATCH: Trump’s response to Florence
“Any amount of money, whatever it takes, we’re going to do it,” Trump said Tuesday as he talked about relief efforts with federal disaster officials.
The president signed emergency declarations for the Carolinas and Virginia, a move that frees up federal money and resources. And he had advice for coastal residents.
“I would say everybody should get out. It’s going to be really, really bad along the coast,” Trump said.
So far, more than one million people along the coasts of North and South Carolina and southern Virginia have fled. They have faced gas shortages at some stations, while those who have chosen to remain in the path of the storm are clearing store shelves of emergency supplies.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper had a direct message for residents who decide to stay put.
“This storm is a monster. It’s big, and it’s vicious,” he said. “The waves and wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.”
Experts say this could be the strongest storm to hit the Carolina coast in more than 60 years.
Parts of the southeastern coast that are not under hurricane warnings are under tropical storm or storm surge warnings, meaning life-threatening floods are possible.