Home / National News / Hurricane Florence tracker: Storm may bring unprecedented flooding, historical rainfall

 

(NEWPORT, N.C.) — Hurricane Florence, a dangerous Category 3 storm, is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Southeast and may dump as much as 40 inches of rain in North Carolina alone.

The rainfall could be historic and the flooding unprecedented, the National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, warned Wednesday.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,” according to one National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, North Carolina. “I can’t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

With the storm not making landfall until at least Friday, residents have more time to evacuate and prepare.

Here is the latest:

— Overnight the storm shifted south and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday issued an emergency declaration for all counties.

— The coast of the Carolinas will begin to feel Florence’s wrath Wednesday night or Thursday morning with gusty winds and increasing surf.

— There’s a chance of tornadoes starting Thursday as the storm meanders near or over the Carolinas.

— Florence is forecast to stall near the coastline late Thursday night through Saturday morning. It may drift around the South Carolina/North Carolina border for about 24 to 36 hours.

— Regardless of where the storm makes landfall, the impact will be extreme for the Southeast.

— Hurricane conditions are expected late Thursday night into Saturday morning.

— The life-threatening rain may last for days, flooding tens of thousands of structures, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

— Thousands of people are already in shelters, Cooper said.

Dangerous storm surge

Florence will also bring life-threatening storm surge, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This is going to be a big hit with storm surge at the coast,” he told “Good Morning America” Wednesday. “People do not live and survive to tell the tale about what their experience is like with storm surge. It’s the most deadly part of the hurricane that comes in, it causes the most amount of destruction.”

Trump says government is ‘supplied and ready’

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the federal government is “supplied and ready.”

In a video message Trump also implored residents to “get out of the storm’s way.”

“They say it’s about as big as they’ve seen coming to this country — and certainly to the East Coast — as they’ve ever seen,” he said. “We’re fully prepared — food, medical, everything you can imagine. We are ready but, despite that, bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature. You never know, but we know.”

Residents and visitors flee the coast

As many as 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

“Today is your last day to get out of the areas that have been placed under evacuation orders,” FEMA’s Long said. “If you don’t do it now, your time is going to be running out. And once the impacts of this storm start to come in, it’s going to be very difficult for first responders to get to you.”

Many people were already on the road Tuesday.

“If they say leave, leave,” said Jennifer Forte, who was in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on Tuesday and headed toward Greenville. “And my job is closed. I work for the government, they’ve closed. The school’s closed until Friday, so there’s no reason to stay, really.”

Cooper, the governor of North Carolina, cautioned that high winds and floodwaters could knock power out “for several days if not longer.”

Up to 3 million of Duke Energy’s 4 million Carolina customers could experience outages, the company said.

“We’ll be asking people to prepare their emergency kit,” Cooper said. “Get food, water. Medications they may need. Pull together their important documents.”

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