UNC Storm Surge Expert Warns Of Potentially 'Catastrophic' Florence

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Hurricane Florence's heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds reached North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday morning, leading the way for a storm packing 105-mph winds.

But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

"The threat of freshwater flooding will increase and spread inland over the next several days".

Even though the one-time Category 4 tempest has been downgraded to a Category 2, it's still packing lethal 100-mph winds and the potential for 13-foot storm surges and 40 inches of rain, officials warned.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the US Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

Florence is now moving to the northwest at 17 kilometers per hour. The center is slowing down and is expected to stall and perhaps wander around just off shore on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That's the interesting thing about this track, is that it stalls very near the coast.

At last report, the storm was about 180 kilometers east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 270 kilometers east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the US mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians". "You're going to be displaced from your home in coastal areas".

This means the storm will have less of an impact in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia and more of an impact on southern North Carolina, South Carolina and northern Georgia. The biggest risks from Hurricane Florence may not come from wind, but from the associated rainfall.

Reaching a Category 4 at one point with 130 miles per hour winds and spanning an area larger than the state of North Carolina.

There are, in fact, 10 of them - and Florence isn't even the most risky one.

Forecasters said it appears the storm will make landfall somewhere around Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which sits just east of Wilmington. "Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances", the advisory said. It's moving at 15 miles per hour, but as it nears the Carolina coast, it will dramatically slow down.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.

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".

"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Carolina coast, experts are warning of its potentially disastrous effects.

President Trump is receiving regular updates on the situation.

"We'll handle it. We're ready. But can't replace us, so we chose to come here", said the 39-year-old.