Spawning 'epic' rainfall and floods, Florence marches inland in Carolinas

A ideal storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence will likely be catastrophic for parts of the Southeast.

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads, gorging rivers and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage the storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path.

SC authorities reported one death. It's moving toward the coast at a speed of 12mph.

The "threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days" in the impacted areas.

A slow motion across portions of eastern SC is forecast Friday night through Saturday night.Data from the aircraft and Doppler weather radars indicate that maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 105 miles per hour with higher gusts.

In its 1 a.m. Friday update, the NHC said Florence was about 45 miles east of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph.

The storm's intensity held at about 90 miles per hour (144 kph), and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most risky place to be as Florence moved ashore.

Forecasters say the center of the eye of Florence has made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward for up to 195 miles.

With their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

According to a report by the news agency Associated Press, Hurricane Florence threatens to cause historic flooding and blow catastrophic winds.

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence. The axis of heaviest rain may shift further south or west, but the extreme rainfall is going to happen. Massive rainfall is predicted, with totals of 20-30in (50-76cm) in coastal areas of the Carolinas and up to 40in in isolated areas.

Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend.

Airlines announced that change fees would be waived for travellers affected by the storm and in need of rebooking flights or postponing their travel until after the storm passes. Millions of people are expected to lose power and it could take weeks to resolve the outages.

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency.

Models agree the storm should strike land between the North Carolina-South Carolina border and the North Carolina Outer Banks, and then track across South Carolina. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

"Life-threatening" Hurricane Florence edged closer to the east coast of the United States on Thursday, with tropical-force winds and rain already lashing barrier islands just off the North Carolina mainland.

  • Jon Douglas