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14 September 2018, 09:12 | Dale Webster
ISS images show massive Hurricane Florence from 400 km up
"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.
Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 1.
Often the greatest threat from a hurricane is the storm surge.
Hurricane Florence smashed into the US East Coast on Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School. "You never know where there are active downed powerlines that could cause an electric situation", Parker says.
Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
FEMA has warned that while downgraded, the storm will still generate life threatening storm surge and rainfall in North and SC.
The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter. A city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been plucked to safety. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".
The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast. It thrashed the already battered coast with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that officials warned could trigger catastrophic floods further inland.
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos * a href="https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleNC.gov/?tn-str=k*F" target="_blank" rel="noopener" *of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.
Images of fishing piers at Atlantic Beach, North Topsail Beach, and Emerald Isle showed waves pounding the wooden structures.
With Hurricane Florence, numerous coastline will see water levels from the storm surge rise over 3 feet, with some families seeing over 9 feet of water near their homes.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the United States, including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence. The storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
As US citizens in the path of Hurricane Florence gear up for it, people have been warned and advisories are being issued in the media.
Florence's circulation was pushing water ashore, especially north of its eye, in coastal or riverside towns like New Bern and Belhaven, turning land to lakes. Its maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 miles per hour (175 kph). Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 90 centimetres of rain, touching off severe flooding.
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