Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

‘Once in a lifetime’ hurricane weakens, begins lashing eastern US

‘Once in a lifetime’ hurricane weakens, begins lashing eastern US

Some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks - barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina - and in some seaside coastal towns, as more than 110,000 power outages were reported statewide. An investigation is underway, but officials said it appears there's no reason for others at the shelter to worry.

But once New Bern TV news station WCTI evacuated its newsroom Thursday night because of flooding and people began to lose power, the seriousness of the situation began dawning on folks, she said.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm - but the danger is far from over for residents of the U.S. East Coast.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. At this time, Florence was a Category 1 hurricane.

However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.

About 10 million people live in the path of the slow-moving storm and more than one million have been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

That scenario has a high probability of occurring in much of North Carolina, a large portion of SC and parts of northern Georgia.

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At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened. A nuclear power plant in Brunswick, NC, has shut operations.

As of 11 a.m. EDT, Florence was centred about 230km southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 17km/h.

SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

As if that weren't enough, an quake also hit SC about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

Catastrophic rainfall is expected to accompany the hurricane's 110 miles per hour winds.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water.

"There is going to be a lot of rain".

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"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", Smith said. "Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting "significant" river flooding, especially in the northeastern portion of the state.

About 800 flights in the region were canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported. "And I can not stress enough the importance of adhering to the governor's orders for mandatory evacuation".

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

As has been the case with hurricanes in most recent years, such as Lane in Hawaii earlier this summer and Harvey last year in Texas, feet of rain can fall when these tropical storms stall.

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Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste. It's moving north-northeast at 18 miles per hour.

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