Hurricane Florence Weakens to Category 2, Outer Bands Reach Carolina Coasts

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

September 13, 2018

Forecasters downgraded Hurricane Florence to a Category 2 on Wednesday, but warn the storm is still expected to bring "life-threatening" storm surges and rainfall to the Southeast U.S. 

Florence, once a Category 4, was downgraded Wednesday evening as the storm approached the Carolinas coast where more than 10 million residents in three states were under a hurricane warning. Meteorologists warned that some portions of the coast could see storm surges as high as 13 feet, with some parts of North Carolina forecast to see maximum sustained winds of up to 110 miles per hour and receive as much as 40 inches of rain. That could lead to historic flooding in the region, forecasters said. 

"This is a life-threatening situation," the National Weather Service (NWS) in Wilmington, North Carolina, said Thursday morning. "Take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions."

According to the latest tracking report from the National Hurricane Center released at 5 a.m., the eye of Florence was located about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. The hurricane was moving northwest at around 15 mph while packing sustained winds of 110 mph.

Meterologists expect Florence to make landfall near southeast North Carolina sometime early Friday as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing "extreme wind and sea conditions." The storm is forecast to stall over the South/North Carolina coastline through Friday night, eventually making its way toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

By Friday/Saturday, Florence will likely weaken into a Category 1 storm. Officials are warning residents to take this storm seriously and plan for evacuations. 

"Plan for extreme wind of equivalent Category 3 hurricane force, or higher, due to possible forecast changes in track, size, or intensity," the NWS said. "Heed any flood watches and warnings. Failure to take action will likely result in serious injury or loss of life."

"Now is the time to shelter from life-threatening wind," the agency added. "Be ready to move to the safest place inside your shelter if necessary."

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