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Florence Downgraded to Tropical Storm, Still 'Catastrophic'

Compiled from Associated Press reports
Updated: September 14, 2018 04:08 PM

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

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Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Track the path of Florence with our Interactive Radar.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina and it's only going to get worse.

Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth said catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue to worsen Friday.

He said that the heavy rainfall for southeast North Carolina is only one-third to one-quarter the way over.

"Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region," Roth wrote in the weather center's rain forecast discussion.

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 of water.

That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet. It's enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet 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 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.

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.

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

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored evacuation orders to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. They say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

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.

Credits

Compiled from Associated Press reports

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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