Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Stare Down from Space into the Churning Maw of Hurricane Florence

Stare Down from Space into the Churning Maw of Hurricane Florence

The National Weather Service has issued strong warnings to residents of the Carolinas and other mid-Atlantic states, saying the hurricane would be the "storm of a lifetime", bringing damaging winds, life-threatening storm surges, and "catastrophic flooding". With Hurricane Florence set to wallop the area as a Category 4 hurricane, there are fears the ponds could overflow or even collapse amid extremely heavy rain, sending vast amounts of manure from thousands of farms into rivers and contaminating groundwater.

The wide storm has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane and forecasters expect top winds to drop more as it nears the shore, but they're sharing a giant dose of uncertainty.

The storm's center was about 145 miles (235 km) east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as of Thursday night. The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour with winds that have decreased significantly to 100 miles per hour. The storm is expected to slowly move inland, battering much of the U.S. coast for days.

The storm's centre was about 180km east of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 2pm local time (18:00 GMT) but tropical storm-strength winds and heavy rains already were hitting North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands. Forecasters are predicting as much as 40in of rain in some localized areas. Visit our sister site Live Science for the latest Hurricane Florence forecast.

The Carolinas will bear the brunt of the storm, but as it moves inland, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland will also be hit. He asked citizens in danger zones to heed warnings because "your time is running out".

Because hurricane force winds extend 130 kilometers from the center, people on land will experience sharply deteriorating conditions long before the center reaches the coast.

"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, South Carolina, Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

Her friend Kate is refusing to evacuate as well because of "the idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more".

Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve. Here's why this storm threatens not only the coast but millions of people inland. It's now predicted to make landfall near Wilmington and then head west across SC.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority".

The storm was about 100 miles southeast of Wilmington and had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, which is slightly weaker than earlier Thursday, the briefing said. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

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