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TROPICAL WEATHER-STORM SURGE
AP Explains: How hurricanes unleash lethal storm surges
WASHINGTON (AP) – Storm surges kill more people in a hurricane than anything else. Never mind the winds that rip rooftops from homes. It’s the water – from storm surge, flooding and ocean drowning – that kills nearly 9 out of 10 people in storms like Florence.
A study by the National Hurricane Center found that between 1963 and 2012, nearly half of all of U.S. hurricane deaths were from storm surge – and the rest from all the other threats like wind and surf combined.
Storm surges aren’t walls of water, like a tsunami. Caused by a hurricane’s winds pushing relentlessly onshore, they are more like domes of high water that form from the ocean spreading inland.
The deadliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. mainland killed most of their victims with storm surge, including 2005’s Katrina.
TROPICAL WEATHER-SHIFTING SANDS
Beyond hurricanes, rising seas menace barrier island homes
NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (AP) – For the barrier island homes that manage to survive Hurricane Florence’s assault on the Carolina coast, it’s only a matter of time.
The fragile islands just off the U.S. Southeast coast are experiencing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the world. By the end of this century, experts project, the ocean will rise more than 6 feet (2 meters) – enough to wash over wide sections of some coastal islands with every high tide.
Coastal property owners in low-lying areas typically rely on federal flood insurance since many private insurers have pulled out of the market. And in North and South Carolina, more than $87 billion in private property is covered by federal flood insurance – leaving taxpayers likely left holding much of the bill as sea levels rise and future natural disasters mount.
West Virginia resort offers shelter for Carolina residents
WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia resort is offering shelter for people who have had to leave their homes because of Hurricane Florence.
Oglebay Resort and Conference Center executive Herb Faulkenberry said people in West Virginia and other locations have also been through weather-related challenges. He said it’s only natural that the resort offer space to those who have left their homes in the wake of the hurricane.
The resort said it is offering complimentary accommodations through Sept. 20 to people affected by the hurricane with a North Carolina or South Carolina driver’s license and proof of residency.
Marketing Manager Lindsey McGlaughlin said those who want to take advantage of the offer should call (877) 436-1797 to reserve lodging, based on availability. More information is available online .
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Hurricane Florence eye 10 miles from Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.
The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.
As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing “catastrophic” fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Florence downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) – Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph).
The National Hurricane Center says Florence is now lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane -force winds and a life-threatening storm surge. It says the threat of freshwater flooding will increase in coming hours and days from the storm’s heavy rains.
The Miami-based center said in an update at 11 p.m. EDT Thursday that the storm’s eye was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Morehead, City, North Carolina. The core is also about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The storm is moving to the northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
Forecasters say the center of Florence is expected to move inland between Friday and Saturday.
Far out in the Atlantic, Joyce strengthened into a tropical storm on Thursday evening with top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph). The center says that storm is about 1,040 miles (1,670) kilometers west-southwest of the Azores and no coastal watches or warnings are in effect. Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Helene is forecast to pass near the Azores on Saturday, and Tropical Storm Isaac is moving west across the eastern Caribbean.
This item has been corrected to show storm is moving to northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
TROPICAL WEATHER-DIVE BAR
As hurricane blows, dive bar toasts ‘Here’s to Wilmington!’
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – As Hurricane Florence blew into Wilmington, about two dozen locals gathered behind the boarded-up windows of a bar that’s survived its share of squalls and tempests. There they raised their glasses in a toast.
The Barbary Coast, which owner Eli Ellsworth calls the oldest bar in this North Carolina city, has a tradition of staying open in tropical storms.
Seated at the well-worn bar, Rick Bonney sipped on an ale. He and his wife figured it was their last chance to get out before hunkering down for days. The center of Florence was expected to barrel through sometime Friday.
Owner Eli Ellsworth says the 77-year-old bar has weathered all storms. He says he’s stocked up and could sell nearly 500 Pabst Blue Ribbon beers by the time the storm departs.
TROPICAL WEATHER-ZOO ANIMALS
As people evacuate before hurricane, zoo animals move inside
As 1.7 million people were urged to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence, workers at the North Carolina Zoo were trying to figure out what to do with 1,600 animals.
Staff at the 500-acre zoo near Asheboro rushed Wednesday to move elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and hundreds of other species indoors to protect them from the storm’s predicted formidable winds and torrential rain.
Spokeswoman Diane Villa says some of the larger animals – including bison and elk – will be put in fenced-in yards instead of barns because they do not like being in fully enclosed spaces.
But many other animals will be kept in barns.
A crew of zookeepers, veterinarians, and park rangers will ride out the storm with the animals.
The zoo planned to be closed through Friday.
TROPICAL WEATHER-SHIFTING SANDS
After Florence, barrier islands still doomed by rising sea
NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (AP) – Even after Hurricane Florence passes, the low-lying barrier islands off the coast of North and South Carolina won’t be out of danger.
The islands are experiencing some of the fastest rates of sea level rise anywhere in the world. But that hasn’t stopped developers and eager homebuyers from investing in beachfront property.
The rate of rise is expected to accelerate as the oceans warm, sea water expands, currents weaken and polar ice sheets melt. By the end of the century, it’s projected to rise by more than 6 feet, enough to wash over parts of the islands with each high tide.
Taxpayers are likely to be left with much of the bill for lost homes. Coastal property owners in low-lying areas typically rely on federal flood insurance.