Florence is still a very large hurricane.
Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 105 miles per hour winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend. Florence is now expected to begin delivering tropical storm-force winds in the region by early Thursday, escalating to hurricane-force winds by late Thursday or early Friday.
The latest rainfall projections warn of 20-40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said.
The hurricane is now 235 miles ESE of Wilmington, North Carolina and is moving toward the northwest at 17 mph. Tropical storm-force winds are predicted to arrive by late Thursday morning or early afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday that the storm will "pile up water" along the coast. Then, it likely will hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet of storm surge and dumping 20-30 inches of rain on both states before slogging over the Appalachian Mountains. Florence's heavy rains could cause an environmental disaster if waste from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites wash into homes or threaten drinking water supplies.
The National Weather Service out of Columbia, along with the National Hurricane Center, has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Clarendon County, along with Chesterfield, Lee and Sumter counties.
Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Georgia, crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, September 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee Island, Georgia.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 160 kmh, but that's still enough to cause at least US$1 billion in damage.
Another reason, according to the National Hurricane Center, is that South Carolina's current forecast has Florence traveling down the coastline and heading inland near Myrtle Beach about 2 p.m. Saturday.
"Get out of its way, don't play games with it", said Mr Trump. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1100 trucks.More news: Robert Scott, economist, says fears over Donald Trump tariffs overblown
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Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, N.C., David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day - will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storms aftermath, it said.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
The timing of the official landfall could change with any shift in Florence's track over the next 12-18 hours.
The Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower, an old Coast Guard tower 32 miles off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, is broadcasting live with a solar-powered camera.
Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of Weathermodels.com in an email called the overnight European computer simulation "another model run for the ages".
"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said". Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.
"You have water coming onshore and you can rainfall coming down that's trying to move out", he said.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.
Usually when a storm approaches the coast, forecasters can tell with ever-increasing accuracy who will get walloped.
One weather forecaster says Hurricane Florence is a "nightmare" to predict.