A monster. A beast. Catastrophic. Vicious.
Hurricane Florence is all of the above – and more, according to meteorologists, who predict the powerful slow-moving Category 4 whirlwind that’s set to crash into the Carolinas by week’s end could go down as “the storm of a lifetime” for this part of the East Coast.
Mandatory evacuations orders are in place for the low-lying coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, affecting more than 1 million residents and tourists – though not everybody is heeding the warnings of local authorities.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump promised the federal government’s support, saying that the U.S. was “as ready as anybody’s ever been,” but urged people in mandatory evacuations areas to get out now – even if they’ve successfully weathered past hurricanes.
President Donald Trump warned Hurricane Florence will be “tremendously big and tremendously wet,” and urged residents under evacuation orders to get out. Still, he says the federal government is as ready “as anyone has ever been” to respond. (Sept. 11)
“They haven’t seen anything like what’s coming at us in 25, 30 years – maybe ever,” Trump said.
“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington warned Tuesday night.
Here are three reasons why Hurricane Florence is such a danger:
When Florence makes landfall, likely late Thursday or early Friday, it’ll bring a wall of water that could reach 20 feet tall, wrote Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.
How serious is the storm surge? The National Hurricane Center lists any storm surge over 12 feet as “life-threatening,” the center’s director, Ken Graham, told CNN.
“Large, battering waves will ride atop this surge,” The Weather Channel reported Tuesday night.
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday predicted storm-surge inundations up to 13 feet in some areas of Florence’s path.
With maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, as of 11 p.m. EST Tuesday, Florence will undoubtedly pack a punch, delivering the power to structurally damage buildings, knock down power lines and topple trees.
The extreme winds can also transform furniture, decorations and other debris into flying projectiles, the division chief for Durham Emergency Management, Leslie O’Connor told CBS 17 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Anything that gets picked up by wind becomes a projectile, and it could also become a life-safety hazard,” O’Connor said.
The rainfall predictions are staggering, potentially up to 35 inches in some isolated areas, the Weather Channel reported, and the dangers will intensify if the storm – as projected – stalls over North Carolina and Virginia.
“All indications are that the storm will slow down and just crawl or meander over the inland sections and the coastal Piedmont,” Weather Channel hurricane expert Bryan Norcross said. “We don’t know exactly where the center will go, but it’s not really relevant. It’s more like a (Hurricane) Harvey situation, where it’ll just slowly wind down.”
After Harvey made landfall near last year near Corpus Christi, the storm stalled over Houston, drenching the metro area with as much as 5 feet of rain.
“It will be worse than a Harvey in the sense that the terrain is not like Houston, which is flat. If you put 2, 3, 4 feet of rain over flat ground, you have a certain kind of problem,” Norcross said. “But if you put a foot or 2 – or maybe in some isolated places more – of rain over hills and mountains, you have a very different kind of problem, which is really more dangerous than the flat situation, as bad as that was.”
If Florence stalls, the Weather Channel predicted “disastrous flooding” across the areas of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast that experienced especially wet summers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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