Hurricane Florence still a threat despite downgrade

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow in intensity

"Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. We woke up today and saw the storm is looking less scary!

The huge storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane overnight, but forecasters warned that it still packed a unsafe punch - 110 mile-an-hour (175 kph) winds and torrential rains.

At least 800 flights along the US East Coast have been canceled Thursday through Saturday ahead of the storm.

The 400-mile wide storm is predicted to start slamming the Carolinas coast Thursday afternoon, then spread inland across the Columbia metro area - with Chesterfield, Lee, Sumter and Clarendon counties now under a tropical storm watch for the first time.

"Now is the time to go because that window of opportunity is closing on you very quickly", McMaster said Thursday.

Helene is now in the Atlantic Ocean following behind Hurricane Florence, which was expected to hit the eastern coast of the United States late Thursday or early Friday. Rainfalls up to 40 inches (102 centimeters) in some places are expected in a region ranging from coastal North Carolina to northeastern SC, with flash flooding likely, according to the NHC. The heaviest rainfall is still expected in South and North Carolina, with upwards of 30 inches of rainfall possible in some locations.

If you want to know more specific information about your area, head to the National Weather Service's social media page, where you can enter your zip code and find your local forecast office.

He also urged those outside of the evacuation zones to be prepared.

The massive storm is larger than North Carolina and South Carolina - combined, according to South Carolina Emergency Management.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. We only need to remember that tropical storm Irene was not a hurricane when it created tremendous damage to homes and covered bridges in Vermont in 2011.

Florence has it all: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins". Adding to the storm stress is uncertainty about where exactly Florence will make landfall, after a shift in its track put more of the Southeast in danger.

Many seaports and airports along the southeastern USA coastline have been shut down, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled, and some highways and bridges in low-lying coastal areas could close soon, as Hurricane Florence gets closer to making landfall. That forecast area also includes part of southwest Virginia. I believe that was a Category 1 storm when it hit Charlotte.

The latest storm surge has some areas under over 8 feet of water. The winds may be down a bit, but the one-two intense punches that we are expecting are still there. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge.

Up to 40 inches of rain could fall in North Carolina. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. The problem is, Flo is now expected to stall out over the Carolinas before slowly moving inland. "Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks".

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