Rain and wind from Hurricane Florence begin lashing USA coast

Rain and wind from Hurricane Florence begin lashing USA coast

It is unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were urged to evacuate.

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.

Greg Postel, hurricane and storm specialist for The Weather Channel.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student paper, The Daily Tar Heel, reported that class has been canceled and students have been encouraged to leave the Chapel Hill area before the storm hits.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

Speaking about the Wilmington area and its surrounding beaches in North Carolina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official said the inland flooding threat was "extreme". ESE Florence swell drops out quickly once the storm is over land, however strong southerly swell then builds in on Friday and continues this weekend, mainly for Southern NC while SC looks small scale. REUTERS/Carlo AllegriDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

"I'm scared we'll get 30 inches or more of rain", said Carol Trojniar, 69, a longtime Wilmington resident and retired real estate agent who has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane. In contrast to the hurricane center's official track, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and pig-manure ponds. Many major roads and arteries have reversed traffic flow to help residents evacuate quickly.

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About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places. It's possible that a storm surge between one and three feet may impact coastal Chesapeake Bay areas.

A Category 4 storm could devastate the East Coast, simulation shows.

While its exact path remains uncertain it is expected to bring huge amounts of rainfall wherever it strikes.

Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday.

"You can't get over till we have power and we have sewer up and running", said the retired teacher and real estate agent, who rode out the hurricane in an inland hotel.

Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico.

Large surf at Atlantic Beach, NC as Hurricane Florence nears.

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