Florence ‘Has Never Been More Dangerous’

Florence continues to churn across the Carolinas, pounding the states with a third day of high winds, unprecedented flooding, and record-shattering downpours.

Since making landfall on Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, the storm has killed at least 14 people and brought much of the region to a standstill. It has meandered at a dangerously sluggish pace across North and South Carolina, concentrating its rainfall in just a few areas and causing more damage than a faster-moving storm.

A reprieve may come soon: Florence has begun to move more quickly, and it has also weakened to a tropical depression, meaning its sustained winds do not exceed 39 miles per hour.

But local and national officials warned that the worst was yet to come for many residents.

The storm has now turned its fury to North Carolina’s well-populated Piedmont region, a plateau more than 200 miles wide that links the Appalachian mountains to the coastal plain. A senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service warned that the area “will experience devastating flash flooding unlike anything in recent memory.”

“This storm has never been more dangerous than it is right now” for much of the state, said Roy Cooper, the governor of North Carolina, at a briefing on Sunday afternoon.

He urged people to stay off the roads across most of his state. Swaths of the country’s busiest highway, Interstate 95, has been forced to close in both North and South Carolina after they were overwhelmed by floodwaters, according to local transportation officials. And the North Carolina Department of Transportation recommended that motorists essentially take a detour around the entire state.

Roughly 700,000 people lacked electricity on Sunday, down from initial levels of roughly 1 million, according to the Department of Energy.

The perils North Carolina currently faces aren’t exactly like those that existed during an earlier part of the storm. Florence’s storm surge has largely abated, according to the National Weather Service, and its high winds have slackened. Now a more rain- and thunderstorm-driven set of threats are coming. Here is what officials, meteorologists, and first responders will be looking for in the next few days:

Flooding. Florence is bringing an inconceivable amount of rain to the United States: Perhaps 18 trillion gallons, with about half of that total falling in North Carolina alone.

Florence has smashed the North Carolina record for most rainfall dumped by a single storm, as …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Science

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