Hurricane Florence bears down on the Eastern Seaboard in what could be the biggest storm in 50 years, forcing residents and visitors into a decision with both options bad: stay and hunker down hoping to survive the monster storm or join a million others that are fleeing inland in traffic jams that will likely become a historic combination of chaos and frustration.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Florence will bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to parts of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states. And despite mandatory evacuation orders in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, many residents haven’t decided to leave, reports CNN Wednesday morning.
Tropical-storm-force winds are due to reach the coasts of North and South Carolina on Thursday morning, and hurricane-force winds may be felt around Thursday night, ahead of an anticipated Friday or Saturday morning landfall.
• As of 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, Florence’s center had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and was about 725 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
• Later this week, life-threatening storm surges – up to 13 feet – are expected along the coasts, and up to 35 inches of rain could fall through early next week over parts of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.
• The storm’s center may move very slowly inland – meaning rain for days in some places. “This thing is going to stop, and it’s going to rain – and it’s going to rain. We could see 3 feet,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Tuesday afternoon.
• Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for most of the South Carolina coastline.
• The state of North Carolina lists 20 shelters open in eastern counties. It also said prisoners from four jails have been moved farther inland.
• North Carolina-based Lowe’s home improvement stores say the most popular items right now are generators, chainsaw, buckets, trash bags, tarps, plywood and gas cans.
• Powerful storm surges and winds will pose deadly threats, as will long periods of heavy rain. Beyond the Carolinas and Virginia, the threat of flooding extends into next week to parts of Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia, forecasters said.