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December 19, 2018
Hurricane Florence: Trump issues warning as storm strengthens
World News

Hurricane Florence: Trump issues warning as storm strengthens


Customers line up to buy propane at Socastee Hardware store, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Customers at a hardware store in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which may be in the path

US President Donald Trump has issued a series of warnings to prepare for Hurricane Florence, which is gathering power as it approaches the Carolinas.

Mr Trump tweeted that this was “one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years”.

Florence is at present a Category Four storm, with sustained winds of about 140mph (220km/h).

On its current track it is predicted to make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, late on Thursday.

A number of mandatory evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, affecting more than a million people.

South Carolina’s Governor Henry McMaster has given the entire coastline until noon on Tuesday to leave.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has also ordered a mandatory evacuation of students.

In its latest advisory at 23:00 eastern time (0300 GMT). the National Hurricane Center said of Florence: “Some strengthening is expected during the next 36 hours, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.”

It said hurricane-force winds would “extend outward up to 40 miles (65km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds [would] extend outward up to 150 miles (240km)”.

The 23:00 report placed Florence about 465 miles south-east of Bermuda, moving west-north-west at about 13mph.

This would see it pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and make landfall on the North Carolina coast at about 22:00 local time on Thursday.

The chief meteorologist for WCBD-TV in South Carolina, Rob Fowler, told the BBC that Florence was a large storm and getting bigger, and those even 100 miles away would feel the impact.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Boarding up under way in Holden Beach, North Carolina

He said the predicted heavy rain and storm surges could threaten areas such as Charleston, which is only a few metres above sea level, and that Florence could rival the impact of Hurricane Hugo, which wreaked $7bn (£5.3bn) in damage and claimed 49 lives in 1989.

Schools in affected areas will begin to close on Tuesday and lanes on some highways will be reversed to aid evacuations.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWill hurricanes like those in 2017 wreak havoc yet again?

“We are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina,” Mr McMaster said.

The office of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam predicted “catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages”.

Rainfall could be up to 20in (50cm) in some areas. This could worsen if, as some meteorologists predict, Florence stalls after it makes landfall.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

South Carolina airmen are deployed for the expected rescue efforts

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told the Associated Press news agency: “It’s not just the coast. When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the centre.”

A similar event caused devastation in Texas last year when Hurricane Harvey hit.

‘We were nonstop’

President Trump has signed approvals for the declarations of emergency in the Carolinas and said he had spoken to the governors of the affected states.

He sent out five tweets over four hours warning people to heed advice and stay safe:

The US Navy is sending 30 ships stationed in Virginia out to sea.

Residents of affected areas have been flocking to stores to stock up on essentials.

Hardware store manager John Johnson told Agence France-Presse news agency there had been a rush on batteries, flashlights, plastic tarpaulins and sandbags at his Charleston shop.

“From eight o’clock ’til two we were slammed. We were nonstop,” he said.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

The Navy is preparing to send 30 vessels out to sea

Resident Deborah LaRoche told the agency: “It doesn’t matter what happened in [previous] storms. This one is different.”

Some petrol stations were running dry as customers filled up.

Curtis Oil, a fuel distributor in Chesterfield, South Carolina, said it had been “overwhelmed with requests by state agencies and everybody else”.

Hurricanes

A guide to the world’s deadliest storms

Hurricanes are violent storms that can bring devastation to coastal areas, threatening lives, homes and businesses.

Hurricanes develop from thunderstorms, fuelled by warm, moist air as they cross sub-tropical waters.
Warm air rises into the storm.

Air swirls in to fill the low pressure in the storm, sucking air in and upwards, reinforcing the low pressure.

The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane – in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific – or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Well, we’re about to get punched in the face.”
Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn, ahead of Hurricane Irma (2017)

The central eye of calmer weather is surrounded by a wall of rainstorms.
This eyewall has the fastest winds below it and violent currents of air rising through it.

A mound of water piles up below the eye which is unleashed as the storm reaches land.
These storm surges can cause more damage from flooding than the winds.

“Urgent warning about the rapid rise of water on the SW FL coast with the passage of #Irma’s eye. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!”
Tweet from the National Hurricane Center

The size of hurricanes is mainly measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale – other scales are used in Asia Pacific and Australia.

Winds 119-153km/h
Some minor flooding, little structural damage.
Storm surge +1.2m-1.5m

Winds 154-177km/h
Roofs and trees could be damaged.
Storm surge +1.8m-2.4m

Winds 178-208km/h
Houses suffer damage, severe flooding
Storm surge +2.7m-3.7m

Hurricane Sandy (2012) caused $71bn damage in the Caribbean and New York

Winds 209-251km/h
Some roofs destroyed and major structural damage to houses.
Storm surge +4m-5.5m

Hurricane Ike (2008) hit Caribbean islands and Louisiana and was blamed for at least 195 deaths

Winds 252km/h+
Serious damage to buildings, severe flooding further inland.
Storm surge +5.5m

Hurricane Irma (2017) caused devastation in Caribbean islands, leaving thousands homeless

“For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life.”
Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin ahead of Hurricane Gustav, 2008

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