Hurricane Florence downgraded to a Category 1 as it nears landfall

Eye On The Storm
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Coastal and eastern North Carolina is feeling the effects as Hurricane Florence trudges closer and closer to landfall. Its winds dipped to 90 mph, downgrading it to a Category 1 storm.

Florence was about 30 miles away from Wilmington and moving at 6 mph as the eyewall neared the coast, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 4 a.m. update.

The storm’s direction shifted slightly from northwest to a more west-northwest direction. As it makes landfall Friday, Florence is expected to move inland across far southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina, according to the NHC’s 2 a.m. update. 

It will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

CBS 17 chief meteorologist Wes Hohenstein stressed that a Category 1 hurricane is still dangerous, saying that Florence is still expected to bring massive flooding to various parts of North Carolina.

“Just like when we were excited earlier in the week with the shifts to the south, we can’t get too excited about a downgrade to a Category 1,” Hohenstein said. “That doesn’t change the impact drastically for central North Carolina. We’re still looking at a big wind event, a big rain event, and some isolated tornadoes.”

Cape Lookout reported a sustained wind of 68 mph and a gust of 90 mph, according to the NHC’s 4 a.m. update. For Macon recorded sustained winds of 65 mph and gusts up to 87 mph as of 4 a.m.

Water levels continued to rise, including in New Bern where there was at least 9.6 feet of inundation. As of 4 a.m., there was at least 6.6 feet of inundation in Emerald Isle.

More than 10 million people are under storm warnings and watches in the Carolinas and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

A hurricane-hunter airplane measured 83-foot waves near the eye of Florence earlier Tuesday, according to a tweet from the National Hurricane Center.

Florence’s track shifted south with Wednesday morning’s advisories — which diminished what the Triangle could experience from Florence. That changed Wednesday afternoon and evening when the storm began tracking north again, which has increased impacts in central North Carolina.

“Showers will arrive already on Thursday, with the heaviest rain moving in from the southeast Thursday night and Friday,” said Heggen. “That heavy rain threat will continue into Saturday, and damaging wind will be possible into the weekend as well.”

A Storm Surge Warning has been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from north of Duck to the North Carolina-Virginia border and north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Wake County and surrounding areas, with Hurricane Warnings for Sampson and Wayne counties. A Flash Flood watch was issued for Wake County Thursday morning in addition to areas south and east of the Triangle.

As the past several days have demonstrated, things can change quickly with hurricanes so make sure to stick with CBS 17 for the latest information.

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