With the outer bands of Hurricane Florence starting to thrash the North and South Carolina coast Thursday, residents and storm trackers alike were given a preview of the Category 2 storm’s wrath as it approaches land.
As thousands flocked to state shelters opened ahead of Florence’s expected landfall on Friday, photos and video recordings of strong storm surges, light flooding and even brave souls who decided to go surfing appeared on social media.
The National Hurricane Center issued updates on the storm early Thursday, indicating that “heavy rainbands with tropical-storm-force winds are spreading across the Outer Banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina.” Tropical storm force winds range between 39 and 73 mph.
Much of the concern Florence is triggering is related to the likely severe flooding and coastal damage that could carry a hefty price tag ranging between $50 billion and $60 billion, according to local North Carolina station ABC 11.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday urged state residents to be aware of the threats posed by the storm. “My message today: Don’t relax. Don’t get complacent. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill. Today, the threat becomes a reality,” he said during a press briefing.
Although Florence is expected to weaken into a tropical depression by Sunday, officials stressed that flooding would continue to be a top concern, as coastal North Carolina is expected to get hit with up to 40 inches of rain. South Carolina could see five to 10 inches, with isolated areas getting up to 20 inches, according to NBC News. The hurricane is predicted to bring storm surges of up to 13 feet.
”This is not going to be a glancing blow,” Jeff Byard, FEMA’s associate administrator for response and recovery, told NBC. “This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.”
As of early Thursday, the storm was roughly 170 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, inching closer at some 12 mph.
Aside from the Carolinas, states of emergency have been declared in several states, including Georgia, Virginia and Maryland.
On Wednesday, the monstrosity that is Florence was captured in alarming photos snapped by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Florence, however, isn’t the only troublemaker churning in the Atlantic Ocean. There’s also Isaac, Helene, Joyce and Olivia, who’s currently dumping rain on Hawaii.