Friday, 21 September, 2018

Dolphins swimming in flood water caused by Hurricane Florence

Credit PA Credit PA
Guillermo Jimenez | 15 September, 2018, 19:58

"A big worry about Hurricane Florence is that it's not acting like a normal hurricane", said Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher, reporting from Wilmington, North Carolina.

Some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges as high as 10ft in places.

Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland". That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated. Parts of the Carolina coastline have received nearly 24 inches of rain already. The southeast town of Newport, N.C., reported a rainfall total of nearly 24 inches as of midnight Saturday. While unofficial, it would shatter the old record of 24 inches - set near Wilmington during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. With Florence, it'll be the same amount of rainfall in three days.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water. It continues to chug west, slowing down from 5 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour.

Radar loop of Florence over the last 24 hours.

This story was compiled from McClatchy papers in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer; and in South Carolina, The State in Columbia, the Beaufort Gazette, The Island Packet in Hilton Head and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach; and supplemented with wire service reports.

Hurricane Florence rolls ashore in Carolinas, tears buildings apart
Meanwhile, many were experiencing a complete blackout as the storm damaged infrastructure, utility poles and transmission lines. North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches.

By Saturday morning, top sustained winds had weakened to 50 mph as it moved farther inland at 2 mph about 35 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath. Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Through Sunday morning, over a foot of rain is expected to fall in and around Wilmington, adding to the 6 or so inches of rain the city has already received from Florence. Flooding also hit the Bogue Sound near Beaufort, the Pungo River at Belhaven and the Pamlico River at Washington.

The heaviest of the rain should gradually taper off in southeast North Carolina during Sunday.

This will then produce more catastrophic flash flooding and major river flooding.

The flooding soon spread into SC. Flash flooding has spread into Raleigh and will expand over Charlotte as well, where flash flood advisories are in effect.

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More than 400 people had to be rescued from their homes or vehicles and some 20,000 were taking refuge in shelters across North and SC and Virginia. Forecasters said the torrents could continue for days, touching off disastrous flooding. Some other parts of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

5-day rainfall forecast from National Weather Service. For those wishing to track Florence's devastation from miles away, PBS NewsHour has compiled this guide of sources that we will be closely monitoring as the storm progresses.

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Meanwhile, many were experiencing a complete blackout as the storm damaged infrastructure, utility poles and transmission lines.

Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina. It will likely take until Monday, however, before the threat of significant heavy rain is over, and it will still rain at times.

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