A much-weakened Hurricane Florence will start affecting the Carolina coast within hours, the National Weather said Thursday morning.
The Category 2 hurricane is expected to make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said. While the storm’s winds won’t be as intense as first feared, Florence is expected to dump as much as 3 feet of rain on some areas near the coast.
The first hurricane-force winds are predicted to affect the Wilmington area beginning about 2 p.m. Thursday, with the eye of the storm passing over the region within 24 hours, the weather service said.
At 8 a.m. Thursday, Florence was 170 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 220 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The storm, which is moving northwest at 17 mph, has sustained winds of 110 mph extending 80 miles from its center, the weather service said.
In Hampton Roads, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Poquoson to the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Florence could produce life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet in North Carolina, the weather service said, depending on tidal conditions.
Once on land, the storm is expected to turn north, bringing rain to much much of Virginia early next week, forecasters said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our sister publication, Port City Daily in Wilmington, North Carolina, is in the path of Hurricane Florence. Our staff there is covering Florence and its impact to that community.