Hurricane Florence swamps Carolinas, threatening record rainfall, punishing winds

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

Allison James, who lives at Huntersville, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, says based on reports this area would not be directly affected.

At the time, the storm carried winds of about 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), making it a Category 1 storm, but that ranking belies the hurricane's massive clouds and the downpour it is visiting on the coastline, with some areas already drenched in 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain. However, as the storm continues to track south, rainfall totals could increase.

Forecasters are predicting that the storm will continue to weaken but still dump potentially record-breaking amounts of rain as it moves slowly inland. The non-emergency call center for Hurricane Florence is 919-996-2999.

Being such a small number, first responders have made clear to them the situation when the storm makes its expected complete landfall by 8 a.m. Friday morning.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.

Hurricane-force winds extended 130km from its centre, and tropical storm-force winds reached out to 315km.

In a hurricane, as Live Science has reported, the most significant threat is flooding, not the high winds.

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As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

Cuthbert Langley, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in South Carolina, told HuffPost that the organization has more than 1,500 disaster response volunteers spread across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

In a Friday morning tweet, the city of New Bern posted photos of one of its statues that had moved "to the middle of S. Front Street".

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

As Hurricane Florence barreled into the shores of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., early Friday, Americans braced for destruction that will effectively shut down daily life across the Southeastern United States in the coming days.

A warming climate also means that the atmosphere can hold more and more water vapor, fueling hurricanes with even more water that can fall on coastal areas.

The system is expected to bring its gusty winds, which extend some 140 miles from its center, and heavy rains to the Azores, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

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