Hurricane Florence Begins Its Assault on the Carolinas [Updating]

High winds have shredded the American flag and the high seas are rocking at the Frying Pan, located 34 miles of the North Carolina Coast.

With an ear-splitting howl and booming surf, Hurricane Florence has arrived. The storm could be a landmark event that breaks rainfall records, leaves waterways flooded for weeks, and reshapes the Carolinas coast for decades.

Florence is a super-sized, powerful Category 2 hurricane with tropical storm-force winds extending 195 miles out from its core. Because of its prodigious size, the storm has yet to make landfall, but its winds have neverthless whipped the ocean into a frenzy. Those winds can heard howling at the Frying Pan, a decommissioned lighthouse 34 miles off the North Carolina coast.

The surf and storm surge are already cutting through North Carolina’s Outer Banks and bands of rain are lashing the coast. Roads from the Outer Banks have been closed and ferries have stopped running as storm surge cuts across the islands, carving new inlets, stirring sea foam, and clawing at the foundations and stilts lifting homes above the normally tranquil beach.

It’s the start of what will be a hellacious few days as Florence moves ashore at a crawl and then cuts inland. Storm surge is expected to reach up to 13 feet, inundating coastal lowlands. That soggy ground also means that winds will have an easier time toppling powerlines and leading to outages.

Paige Sheehan, a spokesperson for local utility Duke Energy, told Earther on Wednesday that the company had 20,000 workers at the ready to restore power, but that it was warning customers they could be without power for weeks.

“People who have spent their whole career here who have not seen an event like Florence,” she said.

States of emergency have been declared from Georgia to Maryland, underscoring just how wide Florence’s impacts could be. North and South Carolina as well as Virginia have ordered evacuations for coastal counties. The orders affect 1.5 million people, though some have chosen to ignore them.

The storm means business. We’ll be watching it closely and updating this post periodically. Earther also has a handy list of tools you can use to track the storm, whether you’re in harm’s way or watching from afar.

Update 3:45 p.m. ET: Right now, the biggest issue with Florence is storm surge. Water pushed ashore by Florence’s winds is cutting through the barrier islands of the Outer Banks and slamming into the coast. The images are dramatic and the surge is only going to get worse as the storms moves ashore.

The surge is bad news, but even worse news is how long it could last. Florence’s slow movement means we could see days on end of high tides, hampering rescue efforts and increasing the risk of home being washed away.

Storm surge is one of the clearest climate change links when talking about Florence. Higher seas mean higher surge. But it’s an exclamation point on an unfolding disaster: Wilmington, North Carolina saw 84 days of floods on sunny days in 2016.

Update 4:06 p.m. ET: The hurricane force winds have arrived. A buoy near Wrightsville Beach (no tie to the Wright Brothers) recorded a gust of 76 mph, just a smidge over hurricane force. The graph below also shows air pressure dropping like crazy, an indicator that more powerful parts of the hurricane are coming ashore. And yet Florence’s eye is still well out to sea. Things are only going to get more wild from here.

Update 5:50 p.m. ET: I’ve been watching the Frying Pan flag. You’ve been watching the Frying Pan flag. Nearly 90,000 are watching the Frying Pan flag live right now. The sight of the ol’ stars and stripes twisting and fraying in Florence’s howling winds 34 miles off the North Carolina coast has mesmerized the nation. Weather Nation meteorologist Dakota Smith has turned it into a time lapse so you can enjoy a whole day’s worth of drama in just 32 seconds. There’s surely a metaphor in here somewhere

Update 9:02 p.m. ET: The hurricane-force winds have arrived. Cape Lookout in the Outer Banks recorded sustained winds of 83 mph with gusts topping out at 106 mph, which are Category 2-level winds. In that same report, the National Hurricane Center noted that a few other privately operated stations are reporting hurricane-force sustained winds and gusts as well. Florence continues to scoot towards the shore and may have picked up a little steam from feeding off of the warm Gulf Stream.

Those winds and accompanying storm surge are also knocking out power and becoming extremely dangerous. A live feed set up by and being broadcast by Pattern in New Bern’s Union Point Park on the banks of the Neuse River captured the moment the lights went out in town. Residents there are among the more than 100,000 who have reportedly lost power. According to Accuweather, that includes every customer in Pamlico and Carteret counties.

And the dangers of storm surge forced WCTI meteorologists to evacuate on-air, leaving an eerie radar loop of Florence as they left the studio. When the meteorologists evacuate, you know things are getting hairy.

Update 11:15 p.m. ET: None of this is good:

We’re up to more than 150,000 without power in North Carolina and Florence is still rumbling ashore. There’s “significant flooding” occurring on rivers according to the National Weather Service. And winds are really starting to rip. And we haven’t even really begun to see the heavy rains Florence has in store for the Carolinas.

Source link

more recommended stories

  • How You Can Help Save Bugs From Extinction

    Image: Swapnil Sharma (Pexels) Insects are.

  • How the Next President Could Declare a National Emergency Over Climate Change

    Illustration: Jim Cooke (Gizmodo Media Group).

  • $112 Robotic Vacuum, Mario Maker 2, Philips Hue, and More

    Best Gaming DealsThe best deals on.

  • Tokyo Is Testing a New System to Detect ‘Guerilla’ Rain and Tornadoes Up to 30 Minutes in Advance

    A man looking at stock prices.

  • The Green New Deal Includes a Powerful Pledge to Indigenous People

    The Green New Deal calls for.

  • Thousands of UK Students Skipped School Today to Demand Action on Climate Change

    Preach.Photo: Getty Kids in the U.K..

  • I Can’t Eat Much Meat on the Planetary Health Diet—But I’m Feeling Better When I Do

    Photo: AP Like many other Americans,.

  • Activists Have a Plan to Keep the Senate From Nuking the Green New Deal

    Photo: AP The Senate will be.

  • A Giant Atmospheric River Is About to Dump Loads of Rain on California’s Snowpack, Threatening Floods

    Rain fell in Sacramento on Wednesday,.

  • Inside the Plan to Prepare the Pacific Northwest for a Catastrophic Earthquake

    In the year 1700, an earthquake.

  • Earth’s ‘Third Pole’ Contains Less Ice Than We Thought

    Aerial view of Mount EverestImage: Wikimedia.

  • In Groundbreaking Ruling, Australian Court Strikes Down Proposed Coal Mine Citing Climate Risks

    Photo: Getty On Friday, an Australian.

  • Russian Authorities Declare State of Emergency After ‘Mass Invasion’ of Polar Bears in Remote Settlement

    Polar bears at the Moscow Zoo.

  • These Award-Winning Botanical Photos Belong in Alice in Wonderland 

    Some photographers like to capture people;.

  • Flash Storage, iPads, Apple Watches, Burrow Couches, and More

    Best Deals of the DayThe best.

  • Washington Governor Declares State of Emergency as It Braces for Biggest Snowstorm in Years

    A person looks out toward the.

  • Spooky New Photos Show the Alien Creatures of the Deep Ocean

    A chimaera, also known as a.

  • A Fleet of Networked Mushroom Farms Is Spreading Across New York 

    BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—Between the pasta and.

  • Six Newly Discovered Catfish Species Have Faces Full of Tentacles

    Photo: Johnathan W. Armbruster The rainforest-flanked.

  • Did a Seal Eat Your USB Drive? New Zealand Found It in a Frozen Slab of Poop

    This video lived inside a seal’s.

  • Brooklyn Jail That Left Inmates Without Heat During Extreme Cold Gets Hit With Lawsuit

    Some of those incarcerated at the.

  • Scientists Will Once Again Try to Explore Alien Ecosystem Exposed by Giant Antarctic Iceberg

    Icebergs float between the Larsen C.

  • Brooklyn Prison Is Violating Human Rights, Lawmaker Says

    Photo: Kathy Willens, File (AP) Update,.

  • Rare Footage Shows a Humpback Whale Calf Just Minutes After Birth

    The mother humpback with her newborn.

  • House Democrats Introduce Bill to Restore Utah Monument Trump Demolished

    The beauty that is Bears Ears.Photo:.

  • For 30 Days, I’m Going to Eat Like I’m Trying to Save the Earth

    Photo: Getty There is perhaps no.

  • The Polar Vortex Just Set a Flurry of Low-Temperature Records

    Earlier this week, these clouds of.

  • As Soon as 2025, Climate Change Could Cause More Birth Defects in the US

    Photo: Getty Looks like climate change.

  • Chicago Scrambles to Protect Its Homeless From Life-Threatening Polar Vortex

    Chicago in the storm.Photo: AP Sandi.

  • Kamala Harris Is All in on the Green New Deal

    Photo: Getty Support for a Green.

  • AOC Slams Google, Facebook, and Microsoft for Sponsoring Conference Promoting Climate Denial

    The one and only.Photo: Getty Our.

  • Some National Parks Reopen as Others Prepare for Cleanup Following Chaotic Shutdown

    People visit Joshua Tree National Park.