With Hurricane Florence set to wallop the area as a Category 4 hurricane, there are fears the ponds could overflow or even collapse amid extremely heavy rain, sending vast amounts of manure from thousands of farms into rivers and contaminating groundwater. This system, when it gets to the coast, is only going to be moving about three miles per hour. Storm winds could intensify through the day and tonight, but weaken slightly Thursday as it nears the coast.
Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes.
As of 10am Thursday (local time), Florence's top winds were 177km/h, and it was marching northwest at16km/h, about 257km east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 329km east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Beside inundating the coast with wind-driven storm, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center predicts.
Hurricane Florence, the Category 2 storm heading straight for my parents' SC house, has the country on high alert.
With recent official reports finding that last year's Hurricane Maria claimed almost 3,000 lives in Puerto Rico-an assertion that re-emerged onto the national spotlight Thursday after President Donald Trump, without providing evidence, alleged that those estimates were artificially inflated and politically motivated-it's worth exploring what it is that ultimately kills people, including the most vulnerable, when a hurricane strikes. The storm was 500 miles wide at the time, with its outer bands stretching over the equivalent of a full third of the U.S. East Coast. But when it comes to water, the maximum wind speed matters less than the size of the wind field for both storm surge and the destructive power of waves moving onshore. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.
Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers in the Carolinas, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".
Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.
While Hurricane Florence continues barreling toward the Carolina coast, the Caribbean got some good news Wednesday: Isaac appears to be weakening.
The National Weather Service Thursday issued a flash flood watch for the Columbia area starting Friday morning through Sunday night. NASA via AP In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the USA east coast as seen from the International Space Station.
Current paths show Florence making landfall near Wilmington, N.C., before tracking inland.