Hurricane Florence Starts Flooding Parts of the Carolinas
The rain turned sideways Thursday, rivers swelled and floodwaters began to fill streets, as massive Hurricane Florence trudged toward North Carolina.
The Category 2 storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a possible Friday landfall.
In Morehead City, the rain and surf pounded the shoreline and took aim at the few boats still in the water. In New Bern, on the Neuse River, a CNN team had to keep shifting position in a park as the water kept rising until it was too dangerous to stay in the area.
A weather station in Atlantic Beach recorded a total of 12.73 inches for a 24-hour period.
Farther south, in Carolina Beach, the northern end of the town was being swamped as water crashed over the dunes.
Some areas also saw the first of the hurricane-force winds. At Cape Lookout there were sustained winds of 83 mph and gusts of 106.
"With this storm, it's a Category 2 but the storm surge and the flooding is going to be that of a category 4," CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray said Thursday night.
She said the momentum the storm has generated on its long trip across the Atlantic won't go away just "because the winds decrease a couple miles an hour."
While wind speeds dropped Thursday, forecasters reminded people that what makes Florence extremely dangerous are the potentially deadly storm surges, the expected mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall.
Florence is expected to go move slowly as it approaches North and South Carolina, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.
"It's not going to take much in a lot of these areas to saturate the soil, so trees are going to come down really easily" and knock down power lines, said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.
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