The Latest: Florence Rainfall Totals Could be Staggering

September 14, 2018 12:04 PM

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The latest on Hurricane Florence (all times local):

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12:25 p.m.

Florence's total rainfall will likely be staggeringly huge.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculates that Hurricane Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain in seven days over the Carolinas and Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

That doesn't quite measure up to the 25 trillion gallons Harvey dropped on Texas and Louisiana last year. Maue says Harvey stalled longer and stayed closer to the coast, which enabled it to keep sucking moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay. It's enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly four inches (10 centimeters) of water.

That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet (68 billion cubic meters). It's enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet (1.1 kilometers) of water, more than twice as high as the island's tallest building.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of water.

Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.

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11:55 a.m.

U.S. immigration officials say they won't do any active enforcement during evacuations or in shelters during Hurricane Florence.

Homeland Security officials say Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are focused on the preservation of life and safety.

The Trump administration has stepped up arrests of people living in the country illegally, but during this storm they say they won't enforce immigration laws unless there's a serious public safety threat.

Immigration officers have been dispatched to help with response and recovery as Florence lashes North and South Carolina with life-threatening winds, rain and floods.

But Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says saving lives is the priority, and anyone fearing for their safety should call 911 for help. Federal officials say they don't want people to fear going to shelters.

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11:45 a.m.

North Carolina officials say parts of the state could experience a once-in-a-millennia flood as Hurricane Florence dumps rain for days to come.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday 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.

Cooper said the state hasn't seen any Florence-related fatalities so far, but he's concerned about people's safety as the storm continues.

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11 a.m.

Forecasters say the center of Hurricane Florence is hovering just inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina.

It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), but stronger wind gusts have been reported.

At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph (6kph), lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).

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10:40 a.m.

Rising water forced a North Carolina TV station to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage.

Hours before the storm made landfall Friday, workers at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio.

A spokesperson for the ABC affliciate said roads around the building were flooding.

The weater service later measured a storm surge 10 feet deep in the city, which lies on the Neuse River near the Atlantic coast. It's about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. Friday.

Video posted on Twitter showed a meteorologist telling viewers they'd be taken to coverage from sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach.

Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated.

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10:15 a.m.

Rivers are rising on the north side of Hurricane Florence as the storm swirls counter-clockwise, pushing a surge of ocean water far in from the coast.

Rainfall also is swelling waterways: Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the U.S. are forecast to get at least 3 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably getting at least a foot of rain.

In Washington, North Carolina, the wind-swept Pamlico River has risen beyond its banks and is flooding entire neighborhoods. Floodwaters submerged U.S. Highway 264, cutting off a major route to other flood-prone areas along the river and the adjacent Pamlico Sound.

Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded. The city tweeted early Friday that 150 people were awaiting rescue.

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10 a.m.

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes.

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

The disaster area was expected to get about as much rain in three days as the 1999 Dennis and Floyd storms dropped in two weeks.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. The Army Corps of Engineers were preparing to start work restoring power, installing temporary roofing and removing debris.

Charley English of the American Red Cross said anyone wondering how to help from afar can donate blood, registering first at their local Red Cross websites.


More from KSTP.com:

KSTP's Hurricane Tracker

PHOTOS: Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Center: Florence Close to Landfall in N. Carolina

DIGITAL EXTRA: KSTP Meteorologist Nicole Mitchell Shares Hurricane Hunting Experience


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9:30 a.m.

Wind speeds are kicking up far from the coast in central South Carolina as Hurricane Florence slowly makes its way along the coast.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 mph (34 kph) on Friday morning in Columbia.

That's about 220 miles (354 kilometers) from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. Friday, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Wind gusts as high as 60 mph (96 kph) were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

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9:10 a.m.

Forecasters say the eye of Hurricane Florence is wobbling slowly southwestward just off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, near the border with South Carolina.

The hurricane's top sustained winds have dropped to 85 mph (140 kph), while it moves slowly toward South Carolina at 6 mph (9 kph).

At 9 a.m. the center of the hurricane was about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east of Myrtle Beach.

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9 a.m.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the U.S. electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow less than an hour after the hurricane made landfall in North Carolina, Perry says "we've done this many times before. We know how to manage expectations. We know how to prepare our plants for these types of major events."

Perry says his department has been in contact with power companies and gas pipeline operators. He says that "over the years the state government and the federal government have become very coordinated in their ability to manage the pre-deployment of assets (and) the response to the citizens of those states, and we will soon be into the recovery."

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

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8:15 a.m.

Hurricane Florence is dumping rain on North Carolina and pushing a storm surge taller than most humans onto communities near the coast.

The center of the eye of the hurricane made landfall in Wrightsville, North Carolina, and was moving slowly westward just south of Wilmington.

Coastal and river communities on the north side of Florence are getting the worst of the flooding as the hurricane swirls onto land pushing a life-threatening storm surge.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday morning according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

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7:45 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

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7:15 a.m.

Forecasters say the center of the eye of Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph), but a gust of 112 mph (180 kph) was reported just offshore.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.

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7 a.m.

It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast.

Forecasters say "it cannot be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland."

Top winds were holding at 90 mph -- that's just a Category 1 hurricane -- but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast.
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6 a.m.

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

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5:50 a.m.

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

None of the people rescued were injured.

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5:00 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas.

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4:25 a.m.

A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts tells WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been rescued.

The National Hurricane Center says the Neuse River near the city is recording more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) of inundation. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.

The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you."

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4 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.

As of 4 a.m., Florence was 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

Credits

The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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