Science

Storm now a Category 2, still risky

Storm now a Category 2, still risky”

Beach communities in North and SC emptied out on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence threatened to unleash pounding surf and potentially deadly flooding as the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on the southeastern states in decades.

On the forecast track, the centre of Florence will move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC in the hurricane warning area today.

It is a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with 130mph maximum sustained winds.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

Residents along a large swathe of the USA coastline have fled their homes as forecasters warned Hurricane Florence could stay just offshore for days before pushing inland.

"The time to prepare is nearly over", Cooper warned. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".

Thinking of the outages likely to come, it also warns to use grills and generators outside - away from doors and windows.

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The last time the U.S. capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow. As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.

Duke Energy, a firm that owns the two power plants, told Reuters it is preparing for Florence by removing any loose object that could cause damage when the storm hits. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Millions of people in the United States are in the path of Hurricane Florence and are getting ready for a storm that it's believed to land on the continent on early Saturday morning. Parts of the Carolinas could see 50 cm to 76 cm, with isolated areas getting 101 cm, over seven days along the coast.

As Florence closes in on the U.S. East Coast, its track has shifted slightly to the south, threatening to batter a wide swath of coastline as it makes landfall near Myrtle Beach.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence", Deal said in a news release.

In Charleston, South Carolina, streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed.

"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989.

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