News

Hurricane Florence packs with a once-in-a-generation punch for Carolina

close


Video

Hurricane Florence packing winds of up to 150 km / h

Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean gives update on the storm track.

The last time that the residents in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states looks down, a hurricane, posing as a great threat as is currently churning their way, Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Elvis Presley had a hot new artist, and Marilyn Monroe said “I do” to Joe DiMaggio.

More than a million people left their homes along the east coast on Tuesday amid mandatory evacuations and supply store shelves were quickly emptied in preparation for the once-in-a-generation Hurricane Florence – a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, which is teetering on the edge of a still higher rank.

North Carolina has only been hit by a Category 4 storm since reliable recording began in the 1850s. That was Hurricane Hazel, which was already responsible for the deaths of 1,000 people in Haiti and the wind was clocked at 150 km / h when it hit the coast in 1954.

“Hazel stands as a benchmark storm in North Carolina history”, Jay Barnes, who has written books about the hurricane history of North Carolina and Florida, told the Associated Press. “We had a huge amount of destruction of all parts of the state.”

HURRICANE FLORENCE PATH: THE TRACK OF THE STORM HERE

In this Oct. 15, 1954 file photo, Hurricane Hazel destruction is to see in Morehead City, N. C.

(AP)

Hazel kept roaring along the coast and the wind had weakened only slightly by the time the storm reached Raleigh, 150 miles inland. Nineteen people died in North Carolina, and an estimated 15,000 buildings were destroyed.

It didn’t stop there.

About 12 hours after landfall, Hazel continued swirling north to Buffalo, New York – ripping through a total of seven states with wind, roaring to 100 km / h or more.

Jerry Helms, 86, was on his honeymoon on a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina when Hazel hit on the evening of oct. 14, 1954. He and his new bride had a roller skating rink and missed hearing the evacuation warnings of the police officers who went door-to-door.

In this Oct. 15, 1954 file photo, high water, the whipped cream in by Hurricane Hazel, shatter boats and buildings in Swansboro, N. C., as the storm lashes the Atlantic coast.

(AP)

Hazel destroyed all but five of the 357 buildings in the beach area of the community now known as Oak Island. The Helmses barely survived.

“There was another house — a wooden house, on the road, the road was more or less and it had a couple of guys in that thing and he is yelling for help,” he said.

Helms pushed a mattress by the top-floor window, and they hung on as it went down in the raging water.

HURRICANE FLORENCE WAS ABLE TO REINFORCE THE ‘DANGEROUS’ CATEGORY 5, APPROXIMATELY 1.5 M PEOPLE EVACUATE

For Florence, Helms said he doesn’t have a safer destination in mind, and recently broken ribs in a fall, he fears getting stuck as thousands leave the coast.

“I don’t feel that it was going to be bad enough to leave,” Helms said. “I don’t know. I felt better about the stay here, then I leave.”

By comparison, Florida, which is closer to the equator and in line with the part of the Atlantic ocean, off the African coast, where hurricanes are born, has at least five Category 4 or greater hurricanes in the past century — including Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Here is the latest 500 PM EDT forecast track and the main messages for the Hurricane Florence of the @NHC_Atlantic. Hurricane and flood Watches have been issued in cooperation with major Hurricane Florence. #HurricaneFlorence #HurricanePreparedness #HurricanePrep pic.twitter.com/PcubmxWTkt

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 11, 2018

From 8 a.m., Tuesday, Hurricane Florence had sustained winds of 130 km / h and was expected to strengthen as it continues to go over unusually warm water in the Atlantic Ocean. Some forecasts show that it could strengthen to a Category 5 hurricane to make landfall Thursday.

“Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane until Thursday night,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane was centered about 975 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the approach of the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

On Monday evening, President Trump approved an emergency declaration for North Carolina.

Was just informed over the phone by @DHSgov @SecNielsen and @FEMA @FEMA_Brock, together with @VP Mike Pence and Chief of Staff, John Kelly on the incoming storm that is very dangerous. Listen to the instructions of your State and Local Officials and know that WE are here for you. SAFE! pic.twitter.com/sN8D5NvrBa

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018

“Listen to the instructions of your State and Local Officials and know that WE are here for you. SAFE!” he tweeted.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was expected to hang out in the Carolinas as soon as it reaches the coast.

“It is not only the coast,” Graham said. “If you stall a system like this, and it’s going really slowly, some of that precipitation may be far away from the centre.”

The mass of the vehicles inland show the large difference between the Hazel of the impact and the damage Florence can cause, Barnes said.

“Today we have thousands and thousands of permanent residents on our barrier beaches,” he said. “It’s a totally different scenario with respect to the influence of man.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the state’s entire coastline to be evacuated starting at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order applicable to about 245,000 people.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said that his condition was “in the eye” of the storm and urged people to “get ready now.”

Fox News’ Amy Place, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular