Hurricane Florence Produces Wind Gusts Near 100 miles per hour in Eastern North Carolina

Video screen capture NASA

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that it could be centered over southwestern Pennsylvania by early Tuesday morning, potentially bringing more rain to Maryland and another surge of floodwaters down an already swollen Susquehanna River.

A man walks past a boarded-up business in Wilmington, N.C., ahead of the storm.

Florence is moving toward land at 9 kilometers per hour (6 mph), giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland. As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities.

Another live stream at Wilmington Tower, which usually broadcasts sweeping views of the North Carolina landscape, shows storm clouds rolling in over the ocean.

"Sometimes these systems, they expand", she said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

At the time of writing, over 116,000 people were watching the storm approach the tower, which "is a privately owned surplus Coast Guard Light Station", that also doubles as a "unique adventure bed & breakfast" when the weather is more appropriate. Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.

About 400 Virginians are in shelters, Stern estimated.

Prisoners were affected, too.

That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

Florence could bring wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as four metres and NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook they could push in as far as three kilometres.

"This is a powerful storm that can kill", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned as the storm began battering the coast Thursday.

Hurricane Florence, from which tropical-storm-force winds are extending nearly 200 miles, has begun pounding the Carolina coastline as officials make last-minute pleas for residents to evacuate.

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Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.

As of 11 p.m. ET, Florence was centred about 135 kilometres east-southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to seven km/h.

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.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

"Some say North Carolina is getting a break, but we are on the wrong side of this story", he said.

What also makes Florence extremely risky are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.

Even if Florence were downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, it would still cause extensive damage, Abrams says.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the country's Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles".

"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said.

Others were at home hoping for the best.

Air Force General Terrence J O'Shaughnessy, head of US Command, said search and rescue is a top priority but that the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of rescuers. "We have a safe basement and generator that comes on automatically. We chose to hunker down".

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