Hurricane Florence: Airline change waivers now extend to D.C., Baltimore

Ignacio Smith
September 14, 2018

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later [Thursday night], then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area on Friday", the NHC said.

Coastal areas of North Carolina began evacuating on Monday, with a second wave at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Even before the evacuation order, Dare County emergency officials warned that rough seas and strong rip currents already were creating risky conditions.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions.

AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said the ground in North and SC and Virginia is already saturated from recent rains.

"That means the more trees that could fall, the more power outages", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

National Weather Service officials in Honolulu urged residents to remain careful, noting that the difference between a Category 1 hurricane and a tropical storm is just 5 miles per hour wind speed.

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"Life-threatening" hurricane and storm surges watches have been issued for huge swathes of the USA southeastern coast as Hurricane Florence barrels across the Atlantic Ocean.

Sustained winds Monday afternoon were up to 140 miles per hour. Tens of thousands of people are also expected to seek higher ground along coastal areas of North Carolina.

Meanwhile, two other storms were also spinning in the Atlantic. Florence was gaining strength in the warm waters of the Atlantic and expected to make landfall sometime Friday morning.

Preparations intensified up and down the densely populated coast.

If Hurricane Florence lands as a powerhouse Category 4 storm along the East Coast later this week, the damage could be extensive - and long-lasting. So you know, where we've been able to deploy resources closer to the coast when we had major hurricanes like this that maybe skirt the coast and then move up the coast of North Carolina, up the eastern seaboard - this one seems to be coming into the Wilmington area and then goes right through the state. SC governor Henry McMaster also suspended his campaign and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration.

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.

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In addition to winds, the storm is expected to slow as it moves onto the coast and could deliver 15 to 20 inches of rain, with 30 inches locally, in North Carolina, Virginia and northern SC, the NHC said.

Quagliariello emphasized the impact of the hurricane, including tropical storm-force winds, could extend more than 100 miles from the storm's center.

Several meteorologists said Florence could do what Hurricane Harvey did over Texas, dumping days of rain, although not quite as bad.

On North Carolina's Outer Banks, Dawn Farrow Taylor, 50, was gathering photos and important documents and filling prescriptions Monday before heading inland.

"We've got more on the way", he said.

"We know the evacuation order I'm issuing will be inconvenient", McMaster said.

TROPICS: Florence expected to produce damaging winds in Carolinas
EDT (1600 GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC ) announced that Hurricane Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 storm. First, here's a map from the National Hurricane Center showing a forecast cone and coastal watches and warnings.

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