Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm, takes aim at Carolinas

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NASA)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of NASA)

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.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.