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

US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence

US East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence

Dealers are moving cars into service bays for refuge. And up to 3 million energy customers in North and SC could lose power for weeks.

Florence could threaten the largest rainfall event in US history, Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 whirlwind that settled over Texas and dropped more than 60 inches of rain, turning roadways into rivers, destroying homes and buildings and killing almost 90 people. The losses won't be easily or quickly overcome. Flooding could prove devastating. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said.

"I had a lot of fear initially, but I am glad to be inside and safe", said Ms Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.

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It could have been worse. There are now fewer tourists to send away. Gen. Robert Livingston, adjutant general for SC, said in a statement. Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies. The Outer Banks of North Carolina took the initial brunt Thursday afternoon, with parts of Highway 12 - the main road that runs through Ocracoke and Hatteras islands - flooding and becoming impassable. High-tech auto plants co-exist with beachfront bed-and-breakfast inns and peanut farms. The two-lane highway is the only route to the mainland other than ferries.

Southeastern coastal North Carolina and far northeastern SC are expected to get pelted with 20 to 30 inches of rain, and some isolated spots may get up to 40 inches in 48 hours.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount rainfall", said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center.

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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for southern coastal counties this morning, but Edisto Beach, Lowcountry counties and Georgetown and Horry counties remain under the order. The National Weather Center upgraded Subtropical Storm Joyce to Tropical Storm Joyce in its 11 p.m. Thursday update. That's about half the amount Hurricane Harvey - the largest rainfall event in USA history - dropped on the greater Houston area past year. Flooding closed refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and caused gasoline prices to spike. The port in Charleston, South Carolina, though, was suspending operations from Thursday through Saturday and possibly on Sunday.

It explained that the shift in the forecast guidance was the anticipated result of a reduction in Florence's steering flow due to two competing areas of high pressure. Roper St. Francis spokesman Brian DeRoy said all of their major facilities will be open during the storm, but they ask patients with procedures scheduled to call and confirm.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state. Overall, Florence is about 400 miles (644 kilometers) wide. Many vehicle dealerships on the coast were already closed Wednesday ahead of the storm. The more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said. The area is under tropical storm and flash flood watches into the weekend. "I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm".

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