- The big slosh has begun, and the consequences could be disastrous.
- Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
Parts of the Carolina coast are expecting 20-30 (50-75cm) inches of rain, with isolated regions seeing up to 40in of downpour. Heavy rainfall began after dark.
"They're not strong", Gomez said about her home making it through the storm. If anything, we are more than likely going to have a power outage.
"We can not underestimate this storm". "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU". And it's going to take awhile to get here.
Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 105 miles per hour (165 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.
"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.
At the time of writing, over 116,000 people were watching the storm approach the tower, which "is a privately owned surplus Coast Guard Light Station", that also doubles as a "unique adventure bed & breakfast" when the weather is more appropriate. "Today the threat becomes a reality", he said.
Cooper says officials are also in the process of opening more shelters because demand is expected to continue to increase.
Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity.
Ken Graham, the director of the NHC, said: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm". "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that".
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.
Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
Wilmington resident Julie Terrell was plenty concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.
"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", he said at a news conference. "Because it's Mother Nature".
One forecast from weather-tracking website Weathermodels.com predicts that over the next week, the Carolinas could see as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain. 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.
About 1.7 million residents across the states' coastlines are under mandatory evacuation orders, and tens of thousands of hospital patients and prison inmates have been moved out of Florence's path. "This is low tide, and it looks like high tide", she said.
"We have lots of water, we've got lots of food, lots of canned food, non-perishable food", she said.
"We're keeping some people late until about 8 o'clock tonight in case things happen, and then we're bringing the next shift in, and they'll be here through the night", he said. Currently, the hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles from the eye.
Gillikin says the North Carolina Coastal Reserve stands ready to respond with whatever resources they can to help any animal suffering after the storm.
Is global warming to blame?According to Fire Chief Glen Rogers, there are in fact only 12 people left on the beach to sit out the storm.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.