Hurricane Florence likely to affect southeast USA energy infrastructure

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 70 mph (112 kph) as it moved forward at 3 mph (6 kph) about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Storm surge is also the source of vast amounts of damage. Hurricane-force winds and inland flooding also is a concern.

"For further context, we accurately estimated the total economic impact from Hurricane Irma would be $100 billion".

At 5:00 pm (0230 IST), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 160 kilometers east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at five miles per hour, the NHC said.

The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore.

Across the Carolinas at least 188,000 people were without power early on Friday.

The 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 probable Friday landfall. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 80 km/h.

"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, warning residents to stay vigilant despite the downgrade.

"There is going to be a lot of rain".

Much of the North Carolina Outer Banks and mainland areas adjacent to Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound and Onslow Bay, North Carolina, will be especially hit hard by storm surge, high winds and torrential rain.

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril.

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The remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia could see 6 to 12 inches, with some isolated areas seeing 15 inches. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding.

About 800 flights in the region have been canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported. "It's going to be a devastating time for many, many people up and down the coast", as she removed items from an office and moved boats into a cove. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.

A note from Duke Energy states that high winds and flooding from Hurricane Florence will impede the pace of outage restoration efforts.

With storm surges of up to 11 feet predicted as Hurricane Florence strikes the Carolinas Friday, The Weather Channel created this sobering simulation with graphics that shows how risky that is - by putting their meteorologists into the virtual world.

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious.

"With the extreme storm surge along the coast, rivers will start to overflow". Damaged or destroyed buildings are often rebuilt in the same surge-prone areas, with government aid, he said.

"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves", the update said.
And newly formed Subtropical Storm Joyce is not expected to threaten land soon.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly. Floodwaters may enter tens of thousands of structures and could make many uninhabitable. Wilmington is expected to get battered before the storm drifts south.

As has been the case with hurricanes in most recent years, such as Lane in Hawaii earlier this summer and Harvey last year in Texas, feet of rain can fall when these tropical storms stall.

  • Douglas Reid