Four people have been killed and at least 700,000 households were left without power after Hurricane Florence hit southern North Carolina on the morning (local time) of Friday, September 14, bringing winds of up to 144 km/h (90 mph) and storm surges as high as 3 m (10 ft). As of Friday afternoon, Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds having weakened to 120 km/h (75 mph). According to weather officials, the storm has stalled over North and South Carolina, moving at an estimated 8 km/h (5 mph) and bringing rains of up to 127 cm (50 in) in some areas. Tropical Storm and flood warnings and watches remain in effect along the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, as far north as Cape Charles (Virginia). Over 1 million people remain under evacuation orders and thousands have sought emergency shelter.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to move northwest over South Carolina bringing heavy rainfall through Sunday, September 16. It is then expected to weaken to a depression and continue moving northwest over western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia on Monday. Florence is then currently forecast to move in a northeasterly direction, crossing over much of the Mid Atlantic and New England regions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Officials warn that catastrophic flooding and high storm surges are expected to affect the Carolinas through Sunday and more 3 million people may suffer power outages in the coming hours and days. Over 1400 flights have been canceled across the East Coast; other transportation disruptions - closed, flooded, or blocked roads, suspension of public and rail services, etc. - are to be anticipated in the Carolinas and elsewhere in the path of the storm.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the largest concentration of storms typically occurring between August and October.
Individuals present in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate strong winds and heavy rain (and associated disruptions), and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities (including evacuation orders). Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater or chemical products; all items having come into contact with the water should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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