A mother and her infant child have been killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a tree fell on their house, the first known deaths related to Hurricane Florence
The storm made landfall in on Friday with a life-threatening storm surge pushing water inland for miles.
Pelting rains and screaming winds are destroying buildings in its path, while “catastrophic” flooding is expected in parts of the Carolinas.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm on Friday morning, and many more who defied evacuation orders are hoping to be rescued. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.
The powerful storm inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power.
At 7am, Florence was centred just 5 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.
Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
Follow updates below. Please allow a moment for the blog to load
The first two fatalities of Hurricane Florence have been confirmed in Wilmington, North Carolina. A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house, the Wilmington Police Department reported. The father was transported to a local hospital with injuries.
Winds from Hurricane Florence have reached Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as the storm continues traveling westward. The storm was approximately 35 miles away as of 1pm local time, according to the NHC.
Local news outlets reported winds of up to 50 mph at the popular tourist destination, where county officials had deployed military-style vehicles to patrol streets and assist citizens. Several residents visited the beach that morning to get a last glimpse of the stormy skyline.
“I think we’re getting a moderate of damage,” one resident told Myrtle Beach Online. “It’s not going to be anything too bad.”
A North Carolina meteorologist was forced to evacuate mid-broadcast on Thursday, when the station’s offices began to flood.
The majority of the staff had already evacuated, but two meteorologists stayed behind to continue their hurricane coverage. But in the middle of an evening broadcast, meteorologist Donnie Cox announced that their sister station would be taking over coverage. Then he abruptly walked off screen.
“Little rough, but we’re all out,” the station tweeted around 9 pm on Thursday.
Check out footage of the incident below.
Full highways are now under water in North Carolina as a result of Florence’s unrelenting rains. More than 14 inches of rain had already fallen in many areas across southeastern North Carolina by noon on Friday, and the NHC warned of “disastrous” flooding that could spread inland over the weekend.
“It cannot be emphasized enough that another serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is and will be extremely heavy rainfall,” the hurricane centre wrote in its 11am report.
Airlines had canceled more than 2,100 US flights by noon on Friday, with the two largest airports in North Carolina reporting more than 200 cancellations between them.
Charleston International Airport in South Carolina was completely closed, and wasn’t expected to reopen until Monday night. Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina was expected to reopen at noon Saturday.
While the US East Coast is being pummeled by Hurricane Florence, Philippine authorities are evacuating more areas in preparation for a “very destructive” typhoon, according to Reuters.
Authorities warned approximately 5.2m people to stay indoors, and moved ore than 9,000 people have been moved to temporary shelters. Super Typhoon Mangkhut is forcast to bring 205 kph winds to the northernmost tip of the Philippines when it strikes on Saturday.
“My appeal is that we need to heed the advice of the authorities. Stay indoors,” said Francis Tolentino, the government’s disaster response coordinator.
While the situation on the ground is getting ugly, this footage from the international space station shows how hypnotic Hurricane Florence looks from above.
A home in Raleigh, North Carolina has been crushed by a falling tree, according to local news reports. The NHC says wind speeds at the centre of the hurricane are around 75 mph.
The centre of Hurricane Florence has continued to move westward toward the border between North and South Carolina, according to the latest NHC update. The maximum sustained winds have decreased to 75 mph (120 k/h), but the storm is still bringing “torrential” rains to surrounding areas.
The NHC warned that “catastrophic” flash flooding was expected to worsen today across southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina.
The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has deployed human and canine teams to the East Coast to aid in hurricane relief. Also deployed was Morty, a canine assistant from the Disaster Response Canine Unit, who previously helped with the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
- The Defense Logistics Agency has 281,000 gallons of fuel, 60 generators and transformers.
- 14,000 people spent the night in 205 Red Cross shelters in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
- 4,500 meals and snacks have been served by the Red Cross
- 40,000 electric workers from 17 states have been mobilized.
- 4,000 National Guard soldiers and air men are on duty. 10 states are mobilizing support. 40 rotary wing aircraft are available for search and rescue.
- 3,000 flood-certified insurance adjusters are on standby.
Govenor said that Florence is “wreaking havoc” and he’s concerned “whole communities” could be wiped away.
He said parts of the state have seen storm surges as high as 10 feet.
Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said the state is expecting 1,000-year “flood events” in areas between Wilmington and Charlotte.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has said that Hurricane Florence is so widespread, “you will find it hard to find a NC resident who has not been impacted. It has just come ashore and will be here for a long time. This is going to be a bad storm.”
At the same conference, Major General Gregory Lusk said over 500 activated North Carolina Guard soldiers and airmen “are already responding to calls over the state. We are standing up a joint task force that has a dual status commander that will be coordinating response efforts.”
While the winds are slowing down, 80mph is nothing to sniff at. Here is a CNN reporter when Florence made landfall earlier today.
You can read more about the rescue centre here:
The storm — which made landfall in North Carolina this morning — is expected to crawl westward, across South Carolina, before it turns to the north.
It’s traveling at just 3mph, which is a walking pace.
Hurricane Florence’s winds are down to 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
When the storm made landfall, it had 90 mph winds.
When the winds drop to 73 mph. Then Florence will move from a hurricane to a tropical storm
“For a meandering storm, the biggest concern – as we saw with Harvey – is the huge amount rainfall,” said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecasting at the NHC.
“It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won’t be known until a day in advance,” he added.
“It’s going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say ‘I’m not sure I really want to do this and I’ll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,”’ said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground.
The effects of the hurricane could be devastating. Experts have warned of the toxic danger posed by North Carolina’s hundreds of pork farms with their open sewage systems, while several nuclear power plants lie in the danger zone. Operators say they will shut down the plants some hours before the storm hits.
The Duke Energy company estimates that between 1 million and 3 million homes could be without power in the wake of the hurricane.
“This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. “We’ve just never seen anything like this. This is just a strange bird.”
Donald Trump issued a stark warning on Twitter on Wednesday, telling Americans to evacuate and not to “play games with” Florence. “It’s a big one, maybe as big as they’ve seen, and tremendous amounts of water,” he added in a video posted to Twitter.
He claimed federal authorities were “fully prepared” for the hurricane, saying: “The storm will come, it will go, we want everybody to be safe. We’re fully prepared, food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready.
“But despite that, bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature, you never know. But we know, we love you all, we want you safe, get out of the storm’s way, listen to your local representatives.”
It came just days after an official report criticised the US government’s handling of the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the US territory where some 3,000 people were killed last autumn.