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World News

Mom charged in death of baby swept away by Hurricane Florence floodwaters

A North Carolina mom whose toddler child was swept away by floodwaters during Hurricane Florence has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the little boy’s death.

Dazia Ideah Lee, 20, was also charged for driving on a closed highway during her desperate attempt to flee the storm waters with her son 1-year-old Kaiden Lee Welch in the back seat, according to the Union County Sheriff’s Department.

“The tragic death of this child and the circumstances surrounding this case are heartbreaking,” Union County Sheriff Edddie Cathey said in a statement on Tuesday.

“However, after a very thorough investigation and taking all facts into consideration and applying the law, we feel that these charges are appropriate.”

Lee claimed that she attempted to cross a bridge over Richardson Creek when she noticed other cars making the trek, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Her car became submerged and they never made it over the bridge.

As the mom tried to get Kaiden out of his car seat and back to safety she lost her grip on the child. The boy’s body was found the next day.

Lee was given a criminal summons and is due in court on November 20.

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World News

Hurricane Florence leaves behind millions of hungry mosquitoes

Storm-battered North Carolinians are facing a new plague — millions of hungry mosquitoes, with some invading buggers three times the size of more common species.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water — of which there is now plenty in the Tar Heel State — thanks to flooding caused by Hurricane Florence, which dumped more than 30 inches of rain on the region.

“It’s like “a bad science fiction movie,” Robert Phillips told the Fayetteville Observer. “They were inundating me, and one landed on me. It was like a small blackbird. I told my wife, ‘Gosh, look at the size of this thing.’ I told her that I guess I’m going to have to use a shotgun on these things if they get any bigger.”

Cassie Vadovsky, brought her four-year-olds home to find a swarm of the blood-thirsty, zebra-striped pests ready to attack.

“It was like a flurry — like it was snowing mosquitoes,” the stay-at-home mother of two said. “I think my car agitated them. I waited for them to calm down before I grabbed the kids and then ran into the house.”

She posted a video of the swarm on Facebook that’s received 128,000 views.

In it, her daughter wonders: “Why are you doing that — taking pictures of the wasps?” Vadovsky responds, “They’re not wasps. They’re mosquitoes.”

The ones Vadovsky filmed are called “Gallinippers,” or “Psorophora ciliata,” according to entomologist Michael Waldvogel of North Carolina State, which can be three times as large as other, more common species.

“I’m not even on the side of town that had the major flooding.” Vadovsky said. “Imagine how bad it could be over on that end.”

Michael Reiskind, an entomologist and associate professor at North Carolina State University said the giant pests can bite through two layers of clothing.

He did a test in Raleigh, the state’s capital, before the storm and counted three mosquitoes in five minutes. A week later, there were eight in the same time. Two weeks later, there were 50. “And our area didn’t get hit the hardest,” Reinskind told USA Today.

Still, he offered: “People shouldn’t worry too much, a big mosquito is no more dangerous than a little one. They aren’t radioactive or genetically modified or some exotic species, this is just what happens after a hurricane hits.”

As the state waits for some cold weather to wipe the plague out for the winter, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered $4 million in control efforts to help counties hit by the storm.

“FEMA provides reimbursement for local agencies to spray for mosquitos. So, it is possible for a county health department to do aerial spraying but not every county does it,” Reiskind said.

The types of mosquitoes seen in North Carolina can carry West Nile Virus and encephalitis, but are not likely to spread Zika or malaria.

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World News

Family’s tweet for help leads to rescue during Hurricane Florence

Thanks to a tweet that went viral, three generations of a North Carolina family have been rescued from hurricane waters.

Breeanna Perry told KDVR she was watching TV on Thursday night in her New Bern home, when she put her feet on the ground and felt water.

The waters rose within minutes, she said, and soon, Perry and her mother and grandmother huddled in their attic to escape.

Perry said she called 911 for help, but city resources were jammed.

Then, at about 1:30 a.m. Friday, the family had lost power — and Perry used the last of her phone battery to send out a desperate tweet.

“If anybody could help… our car is under water and so is our house. Stuck in the attic. Phone is about to die. Please send help,” she wrote, including her address.

Her SOS was shared over 10,000 times and liked more than 6,000 times.

“I sent the tweet. I didn’t expect it to go viral,” she said.

By 6 a.m. the family was rescued by Louisiana’s famed “Cajun Navy” and they made their way to a Kinston hotel north of their city. That hotel started to flood Saturday morning and they were trying to find a place to stay, according to the outlet.

A friend of Perry’s started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family, saying they lost “their home, clothes, cars and all their personal belongings” in the storm.

Hundreds of people had to be rescued from the coastal city over Friday and Saturday, local authorities said.

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World News

Storm Florence flash flood warning with 40ins of rain as death toll reaches 12

Tropical Storm Florence deluged North and South Carolina with "epic" amounts of rain as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and leaving at least 12 people dead.

Florence’s intensity has diminished since it roared ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane.

But its slow march over the two states, crawling west at only 2 miles per hour (3 km per hour), is expected to leave large parts of the region deluged in the coming days.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing.

His state has already endured record rainfall, with much more forecast to come. Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said.



"This is a hurricane event followed by a flood event," said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, stranded people were being rescued by boat and by helicopter, while tens of thousands of others hunkered down in shelters.

Numerous roads were closed, and authorities warned of the risk of landslides, tornadoes and flash floods, with dams and bridges in peril as rivers and creeks swelled.



Utility crews worked to restore electricity. As of Saturday afternoon, about 752,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in South Carolina.

Helicopter crews have carried out dozens of missions in coastal North Carolina and helped in the rescue of 50 people and eight pets, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard.

At 5pm EDT (9pm GMT), the National Hurricane Center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour.

It said it was located about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march.


The centre said the storm would dump as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain along coastal areas of the Carolinas, as well as up to 10 inches in southwestern Virginia.

In Fayetteville, a North Carolina city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles inland, authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear River and Little River to get out of their homes because of the flood risk.

"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible," Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.


Officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state, with the total across the US east coast now at 12.

In South Carolina, a woman was killed when her vehicle struck a fallen tree.

Two people were killed in a house fire in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Officials said firefighters were unable to quickly enter the building due to the storm.



In Wayne County, an 81-year-old man died on Friday after falling and striking his head while he was packing to evacuate.

The storm made landfall on Friday near Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 squeezed between North Carolina’s Atlantic coastline and the Cape Fear River.



On Saturday, its streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

Electricity remained out for much of the city, known for its historic mansions, with power lines lying across roads like wet strands of spaghetti.

"The fact that there haven’t been more deaths and damage is amazing and a blessing," said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington’s Winoca Terrace neighbourhood.

Florence has already set a North Carolina record for rainfall totals, exceeding that of Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999 and caused 56 deaths.


Floyd produced 24 inches of rain in some parts of the state, while Florence has already dumped about 30 inches in areas around Swansboro.

In New Bern, about 90 miles northeast of Wilmington at the confluence of two rivers, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000 and left the downtown area under water. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind," said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern.


More than 20,000 people were in 157 shelters in North Carolina, with nearly 6,000 in South Carolina shelters, officials said.

South Carolina authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

Schoolteacher Leslie Ochoa said she and her family loaded up 10 adults, 5 children, 14 goats, 10 dogs , two cats and one guinea pig and evacuated from Jacksonville, North Carolina to Columbia, South Carolina last Tuesday.



As her son fed the goats in a hotel parking lot, she said she might not be able to return home until the middle of next week.

"Our friend behind our old house, they have gators swimming in the water. So yeah, not safe," Ochoa said.


The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump plans a visit to the region next week.

As the United States dealt with Florence, a strong typhoon tore across the northern tip of the Philippines, killing at least three people, wrecking homes and triggering landslides before heading toward Hong Kong and southern China.

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Science

What it's really like to fly into a hurricane, and why it's a critical part of your forecast

  • Hurricane hunters have been flying directly into storms for 75 years.
  • There’s no better way to get a clear, accurate picture of how strong and windy a hurricane is.
  • Scientists in the airplane measure the wind speeds and pressure inside hurricanes. It’s information we can’t get from satellites.
  • They also try not to hurl.
  • Hurricane scientist Jon Zawislak told us what a bumpy ride inside a hurricane is really like.

Before he heads to work, Jon Zawislak sometimes pops a ginger pill in his mouth to settle his stomach. He also prefers to stick to bland foods like pretzels and crackers before he gets to the office, because he wouldn’t want to hurl all over his desk.

Zawislak is a Hurricane Hunter.

He spends 8-hour long days soaring 10,000 miles in the air, collecting data on the wind, temperature, pressure, humidity, and rain falling inside big storms, where hurricane-force winds top 75 mph.

While others on the ground are figuring out the best ways to avoid the eyes of these dangerous storms, he flies right into them.

“Aircraft are still the single best platform that we have to measure the state of a storm,” Zawislak told Business Insider. “When it comes to the windfield, or the central pressure of the storm, that kind of data can only really come from an aircraft, and the instruments on the airplane.”

In the past week, he’s traveled through both Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Florence, collecting vital data that the National Hurricane Center uses to upgrade a storm’s category, or better track where it’s headed next.

What an 8 hour workday in the air is like

Hurricane hunting flights have been around for 75 years, ever since British fighter pilots essentially dared a US Colonel to fly directly into a storm during WWII.

Today, Zawislak says there are two critical devices on the Lockheed Martin WP-3D he flies in for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that help inform our National Hurricane Center forcasts. First, there’s the plane’s on-board radar that measures wind and rain, and then there’s a little device that’s essentially a paper towel roll with a parachute on its back, called a dropsonde.

The dropsonde is a disposable instrument outfitted with a GPS receiver, as well as pressure, temperature and humidity sensors. The throw-away package gets stuffed out a window, and then sucked away from the plane. Over the course of a typical 8 hour flight, a dropsonde operator might plop 20 of them down into a storm, everywhere from the eye to the very outer rim, to examine how the windfield changes at different locations and heights in the storm.

As it falls to the surface of the ocean, each dropsonde radios its information back to the plane.

“It really allows us to profile the atmosphere, which is one of the most important things,” Zawislak said. “So we can see how the wind speed changes with height.”

All this information can dramatically shift how forecasters characterize a storm.

Take Zawislak’s Monday flight into Hurricane Florence, for instance. “It went from what looked like a category 2 hurricane, all the way to a category 4 hurricane, just because we had the aircraft,” he said.

Getting a job as a flying scientist

Zawislak, who holds a PhD in atmospheric science, has been working on both planes and unmanned drones that fly through hurricanes for roughly a decade.

Zawislak at work. Jon Zawislak

As a Hurricane Field Program Director for NOAA, he is essentially in charge of a plane-sized research lab in the sky. He decides where the flight path will head to collect its best data, and makes sure the instruments on board are getting all the information they’ll need to answer key research questions in flight.

One of the biggest unanswered questions Zawislak still has about hurricanes is how they get so fierce, so fast. It’s still not well understood how storms organize and gather strength, developing from uneven messes of rain and light wind to powerful, swirling hurricanes that can rip through homes and pummel the shore with water.

It’s an important research question for Zawislak, because if he can better understand why and how the storms are intensifying, forcasts will improve.

Zawislak and a colleague examine the flight track and check data coming in from their instruments in flight. Jon Zawislak

Zawislak says he’s “not crazy,” he just wants to learn more about big storms

Zawislak tries to steer clear of greasy foods before he boards the plane, but he says that flying into a storm isn’t always a bumpy ride. In fact, inside the storm it can feel just like a commercial flight, with the seatbelt sign off and all.

The pilots Zawislak files with (there are three of them in the cockpit) typically try to keep the plane level, for the sake of the instruments, and maintain a height of about 10,000 feet.

“We have the best pilots, the best engineers, the best mechanics, this is the best-maintained airplane you can find,” he said.

Still, the turbulence inside the plane can be unnerving at times, even with a harness on.

“You have flights where you’re in moderate to severe turbulence for two to three hours,” Zawislak said.

Inside the eye of a big storm like Florence, things clear up. At its very inner core, a hurricane is a place of peace, surrounded by violent chaos. Hurricane hunters say it looks like a big stadium, clear and serene.

“It’s much bigger than any stadium you’ve been in,” Zawislak said. When he flew through the eye of Florence, as a category 4 storm, the center was more than 15 miles wide, and took four minutes to fly through.

Despite the fact that Zawislak has to muscle his stomach through several long and bumpy rainy joy rides every hurricane season, he still wants you to know that he’s not completely out of his mind for taking this job.

“We’re not crazy” he said, before boarding another flight into tropical storm Isaac. “We are playing a humongous role in getting the information to the National Hurricane Center, so that they can tell the public how strong the storm is.”

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World News

Florence by the numbers: Strongest wind gust in 60 years hits Wilmington

Hurricane Florence is slamming into the East Coast, knocking out power in North Carolina, dropping torrential rains and inundating several areas with floodwater.

Interested in Hurricane Florence?

Here is a look at the dangerous storm by the numbers:

105 mph: As the storm made landfall Friday morning, Wilmington, North Carolina, was hit by a 105 mph wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958.

150: The number of people requesting rescue in flooded New Bern, North Carolina, where water levels reached 10 feet overnight.

The downtown area, at the confluence of two rivers, is mostly underwater.

Volunteers are using private boats to pitch in and help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.

New Bern resident George Zaytoun, who chose not to heed evacuation warnings and is now trapped inside his home, told “Good Morning America,” “It’s like a bomb has gone off.”

“Everything around us is underwater,” he said.

“This is twice the size of Hurricane Hugo,” which tore through the Carolinas in 1989, New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told “Good Morning America.”

“We need America’s prayers,” Outlaw said.

310: Number of volunteers from nine different states helping the Cajun Navy with rescues.

57: Number of people the Cajun Navy says they rescued Friday morning, according to the founder of the group, Todd Terrell.

30 inches: Preliminary reports show over 30 inches of rain in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, according to the U.S Geological Survey. If confirmed by the National Weather Service, this number would set a record.

455,000: The number of customers without power in North Carolina.

20,000 There are 20,000 North Carolina evacuees staying at shelters across the state, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday.

11 feet: Storm surge may reach this point in parts of North Carolina.

“People do not live and survive to tell the tale about what their experience is like with storm surge,” FEMA administrator Brock Long told “GMA.”

40 inches: Rainfall could reach this point.

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World News

How the federal government is poised to respond to Hurricane Florence

The majority of planning and response to major storms or severe weather is led by state and local governments but the federal government plays a significant role in providing resources, manpower, and funding for recovery after the storm.

Interested in Hurricane Florence?

President Donald Trump said earlier this week that the federal government is “totally prepared” for Hurricane Florence.

For example, federal law enforcement officers are on hand to assist in rescues and help secure facilities and shelters impacted by the storm. The largest federal law enforcement presence comes from the Department of Interior, which has deployed 76 officers from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the region.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the members of the federal law enforcement contingent are poised to go wherever they are needed.

“I think it’s important, too, to realize that many of these law enforcement special operations, what we call SORT teams — their families and homes are at risk, too,” he told ABC News. “But they’re out on the front line during these crises, just like our firemen, just like our local law enforcement. “Any time their families and homes are at risk, they’re on the front lines. Service for all, so God bless them,” Zinke said.

Here’s the latest on what federal agencies are doing to prepare and respond to Hurricane Florence.

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead agency coordinating the federal response to Hurricane Florence. The agency is ready to distribute millions of liters of water, millions of pounds of food, and hundreds of thousands of blankets. FEMA has activated 27 incident support centers in the region and 25 search-and-rescue teams ahead of the storm.

Energy, environment & agriculture

The Energy Department is installing generators at facilities deemed critical, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Additionally, about 40,000 crews from 17 states are also deployed to help restore power.

Brunswick Nuclear Plant, four miles inland in Southport, N.C., is currently in the path of Hurricane Florence. Based on forecasts, officials from Duke Energy – the largest regional utility — said they anticipate the plant site will experience sustained hurricane force winds and, per procedures, operators will be prepared to systematically shutting down both units. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has deployed more than a dozen inspectors to support nuclear facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has waived some fuel requirements for the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia in an effort to prevent fuel shortages. Based on the current projected path of Hurricane Florence, EPA has identified 40 Superfund sites within the potential impact zone and will be monitoring those sites for any damage.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has subject matter experts in place to help states analyze damage to wastewater facilities after Hurricane Florence passes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing information to the impacted areas about keeping food safe during power outages, protecting livestock, and recovery funding that could be made available to producers that lose livestock or crops because of the storm.

Travel

As Hurricane Florence approaches, airlines and airports are preparing for the storm. Smaller and medium-sized airports are winding down their operations. Airlines are securing equipment and getting recovery teams in place.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has teams in place to get checkpoints back up and running. The agency has what’s called a National Deployment Force (NDF) made up of train station security officers, K9 teams, supervisors and other staffers who respond when additional resources are needed. When regular employees can’t get to work after a hurricane hits, these teams are there to step in. Twenty-five NDF members have already been dispatched to the Raleigh-Durham Int’l Airport.

Generally, planes do not land at an airport where winds are consistently blowing over 30 or 35 mph. When winds reach higher than 55 mph or so, air traffic controllers will clear the tower. Thousands of flights were canceled in advance of the storm.

Major airports rarely use the word “closed,” but they will halt operations and ask people not to come. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston and Wilmington.

At this point, no major airports are “closing.” All airlines have waivers in place for airports in the Carolinas and Virginia. Many are capping fares for flights out of the region. Some are using larger aircraft to add available seats to outbound flights, including Delta.

Airports that have ceased operations as of Thursday afternoon include Charleston (CHS), Wilmington (ILM), Myrtle Beach (MYR), Fayetteville (FAY), Hampton/Newport News (PHF), Greenville (PGV), Jacksonville (OAJ) and Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN).

Department of Defense

Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Virginia and Fort Bragg in North Carolina have been designated as the FEMA Incident Support and Federal Staging Area in support of response efforts. The Army Corps of Engineers has alerted some of its teams to prepare for deployment, including Temporary Emergency Power Personnel. The Navy has begun re-positioning more than 100 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters from its bases in the Norfolk, Virginia area. Today and tomorrow they’ll head to bases in six states in advance of the storm.

Almost 4,000 National Guard troops have been activated in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

Communications & highways

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff have been deployed to survey systems and work with stakeholders to support restoration and recovery efforts.

The Federal Highway Administration is working with state transportation agencies on evacuations, turning highways into one way lanes and recovery efforts.

Medical

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar declared public health emergencies for North Carolina and South Carolina as Hurricane Florence continues its track toward the eastern seaboard. The declarations give healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs. Three hundred medical personnel are in position and 200 ambulances are staged in Raleigh, NC, with more available if needed.

U.S. Department of Interior

National Parks and wildlife refuges are closed and staff will begin to assess any damage and work to clean up debris and re-open roads soon after the storm passes. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are also on hand to provide real-time information to first responders and have installed 160 sensors along the coastline to track the tide.

What about insurance companies?

Before the storm even hits, insurance companies will be mobilizing their response teams, which will travel to hard-hit areas to assess the damage (not much done pre-storm).

Pat Garrett, president North American Insurance Consultants based in Tampa, Florida, said the most important thing homeowners can do now is to take video of their homes before the storm hits and to catalog everything they own.

Garrett, a licensed public adjuster who represents homeowners in insurance claims, says storm evacuees should bring those files and their policies with them. He also says it’s important to never underestimate the damage a storm can do even once it’s passed. Humidity and mold will likely destroy much of a home left boarded up until roads are passable.

He noted that flood insurance typically maxes out at $250,000 and that buying additional flood insurance can be cost-prohibitive.

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Lifestyle

How Will The Wild Horses Of The Outer Banks Survive Hurricane Florence?

The wild herd descended from Spanish Mustangs have appeared in the area for over 500 years

Messages of concern are coming in from all over the world about the wild horses which live in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in reference to the coming hurricane. But experts say that the wild horses have survived over the years through many storms and bad weather by relying on their natural instincts that have been honed through the centuries.

While there are only approximately 1oo horses left in what is called the Corolla herd in Currituck County, North Carolina, they manage to survive on their wits says Meg Puckett, herd manager of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

“We do everything that we can to protect them, but in situations like this, these horses have incredible instincts. They’re so resourceful, and they have an incredibly strong will to live.”

CNN is reporting that the horses, which are descended from the Spanish Mustangs brought to the colonies by early explorers, know where to go for the best shelter from coming storms. While the horses might be seen on a normal day fighting for dominance or rolling on the beach, yesterday they were getting organized in advance of the storm.

“We’re already seeing them group up together. They go into the maritime forest, where they get under the cover of the live oak trees that protect them and go to the highest ground.”

Though Hurricane Florence is expected to be the most severe storm to hit the area in decades, Puckett says that the horses, which mostly congregate around the Cape Lookout National Seashore are seeking higher ground and will be looked after by those who haven’t evacuated.

“These horses have been here centuries. They are probably better equipped to handle this kind of weather than anybody else on the Outer Banks right now.”

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund communicates with the community and with those concerned with the welfare of the wild herd through their Facebook page which shares photos, fundraisers, and news about the wild horses and burros of the barrier islands of North Carolina.

And it’s on the Facebook page where the admirers of the wild herd are expressing their concern and worries for the beautiful giants.

“Thinking of all of the horses as Florence approaches…. Praying for their safety.”

Another horse lover shared concern particularly for the foals in the herd.

“Prayers for protection from the storm for these beautiful animals & the young foals.”

The Facebook page of the Corolla herd is the best way to stay up to date on how the horses are managing throughout Hurrican Florence.

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Sport

Talladega Superspeedway offers shelter for Hurricane Florence evacuees

East Coast residents in need of a place to stay as they flee Hurricane Florence's potential devastation can set up camp at one of NASCAR's historic racetracks. 

With the potentially devastating storm expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, Talladega Superspeedway is offering a portion of its campgrounds to the public free of charge beginning Thursday morning.

The Alabama track has the largest amount of property on the NASCAR circuit and its campgrounds outside of Turn 1 will provide hot shower and restroom facilities, in addition to water hookups for campers and RVs.

“We at Talladega Superspeedway are committed to helping our friends in the Carolinas and the surrounding states during this time of need,” Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said.

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World News

Rush Limbaugh Says ‘Doom And Gloom’ Forecasts Of Hurricane Florence Are Just A Ploy To Push Global Warming

The conservative radio show host has often said that hurricane warnings are a conspiracy to push the idea of climate change.

Millions of Americans are preparing for the landfall of Hurricane Florence, predicted to be one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Carolinas, but Rush Limbaugh believes all the fuss is just a ploy to push the idea of global warming.

This week, the conservative radio show host said he believes that the hurricane coverage has been politicized by people with a motive of boosting climate change, Media Matters noted.

“This is, they tell us, one of the most powerful hurricanes this far north, ever. And, of course, why is that?” Limbaugh posed to listeners. “Well, that would be sea surface temperature. And why is that warmer than, there you go, climate change. It’s being accepted as a non-argumentative fact. I don’t care what meteorologist you watch or read, website or what have you. All of this seems to be acknowledged fact. So we’re keeping an eye on that.”

Forecasters have a very different view. They believe the danger posed by Hurricane Florence is very real, as the storm has the potential to stall over the Carolinas, dumping tremendous amounts of rain and causing potentially “catastrophic” flooding.

The National Hurricane Center declared that Florence is “expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.” This could mean up to 40 inches of rain on parts of South Carolina, the warning noted.

This is not the first time that Rush Limbaugh has used an impending hurricane to push his doubts about global warming to listeners. In 2016, he said that forecasts of destruction for Hurricane Matthew were meant to distract from the fact that the United States had gone nearly a year without a major hurricane and to push the idea of climate change, per a previous Inquisitr report. The hurricane at the time was forecast to be one of the strongest ever to hit Florida.

“Eleven straight years of no major hurricanes striking land in the United States, which just bores a hole right through the whole climate change argument,” Limbaugh said on his show.

The conservative radio host resurrected that argument the following year as Hurricane Irma approached, calling the storm’s coverage a “liberal conspiracy” by the media to boost ratings and “hype climate change,” the Washington Post reported.

But, according to the Inquisitr, Rush Limbaugh quickly changed his mind last year as the forecast for the hurricane put it through his sprawling Palm Beach mansion. He told viewers that he would be gone for several days as he evacuated the estate.

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Science

Here's where Hurricane Florence is due to make landfall, according to the latest prediction

  • Hurricane Florence is surging towards the US, and is due to make landfall Friday.
  • The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm striking land at Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.
  • The track is not certain, and is subject to change.
  • Read our full hurricane coverage here.

Hurricane Florence is surging towards the US, and could strengthen to Category 5 — the strongest class of storm — before it makes landfall.

The storm is due to hit somewhere around North Carolina, according to the latest information from the National Hurricane Center, which predicts landfall early on Friday.

Its latest prediction, published at 8 a.m. Tuesday, indicates that the eye of the storm is expected to hit the coast over Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. (Sneads Ferry was also the point of landfall in the 5 a.m. prediction).

The area is home to around 10,000 people.

A Google Street View image of an area close to Sneads Ferry, the area of the North Carolina Coast predicted to be hit by the storm. Google Street View

The track had shifted 18 miles southward from an earlier advisory, which suggested that the storm would make landfall at Swansboro, North Carolina.

Sneads Ferry, of around 2,500 people, is close to the city of Jacksonville.

National Hurricane Center predictions are not totally accurate, and the “track” of the storm, seen in the map below, could shift significantly.

The center only predicts a few fixed points where they believe the storm will be, and the rest of the track is created by drawing straight lines between them. The likely destination of the storm is usually expressed as a cone to reflect this uncertainty.

A map showing the likely track of Hurricane Florence, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. update on Tuesday, September 11. The pink areas show areas covered by wind and storm surge warnings. National Hurricane Center

According to the WCTI local news channel, Sneads Ferry is under an official state of emergency, with residents being encouraged — but not obliged — to evacuate.

For more on Hurricane Florence:

Read Business Insider’s reporting on the evacuation operation as the storm approaches.

Read our overall report on the hurricane’s progress.

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Science

Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the Carolinas, with at least 1 million people ordered to evacuate — here are the areas that could get hit

Hurricane Florence storm track. National Hurricane Center

  • Hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic states on Thursday evening or Friday morning.
  • It could be the first Category 4 storm to hit North Carolina since Hurricane Hugo devastated the region in 1989.
  • The slow-moving hurricane could also dump heavy rainfall inland, bringing a risk of flooding.
  • South Carolina’s Governor ordered the state’s entire coastline evacuated by Tuesday afternoon in advance of the storm. Evacuations now extend to 1 million people in the state.

A Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds is bearing down on the US East Coast, bringing a risk of devastating floods.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere between North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic states on Thursday evening or Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The hurricane could remain powerful as it passes over the US mainland, the NHC warned on Monday morning.

The hurricane is set to inundate low-lying islands off the coast of North Carolina, like the Outer Banks and other barrier islands, according to the NHC’s “cone of probability” forecast. Heavy rain may impact as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, though the severity will depend on the storm’s track, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Evacuations now extend to 1 million people in South Carolina — Governor Henry McMaster ordered the state’s entire 187-mile coastline evacuated by Tuesday afternoon, reports The Post and Courier.

“Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of South Carolina and is going to go way inshore,” McMaster said in a press conference.

Evacuation orders are mounting

Some South Carolina schools and most offices have been closed in Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, in advance of the storm, reports The Post and Courier. The famed vacation destination of Hilton Head, South Carolina is also in the storm’s likely path.

In North Carolina, evacuations have been ordered in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks and Hatteras, a popular vacation spot, as well as other coastal counties, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Everyone in Dare County is encouraged to evacuate as soon as possible regardless of the established time frames,” the Dare County Emergency Management said on Monday.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a press conference that the state is in the “bullseye” of the hurricane, according to The Raleigh News and Observer.

Hurricane Florence, pictured from the International Space Station on Monday morning. NASA via AP

The latest Florence forecast

Predicting hurricane tracks is a difficult science, and the NHC said there are still uncertainties about the storm’s track. So it may shift over the coming days, but if predictions hold, Florence is set to be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina since Hurricane Hugo tore through the state in 1989.

“There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds,” the NHC warned.

Florence is a Category 4 storm, which means it has wind speeds between 130-156 mph. Its center is located about 580 miles southeast of Bermuda. The NHC expects the hurricane’s winds to strengthen as it moves west by Tuesday, drawing energy from the warm water. The storm is moving west at 30 mph.

The chart below shows the probability of the area that will experience at least 39 mph winds. The area in purple corresponds to a 90% or higher probability of experiencing those gusts:

Hurricane Florence wind speed probabilities. National Hurricane Center

The NHC also said that the storm’s effects, including rain, high wind, rip currents, and tidal surges will likely be felt outside of the “cone of probability” and could extend hundreds of miles from the storm’s center.

Heavy rains are expected

Beyond the damage from wind and high surf, Hurricane Florence is predicted to slow over the Carolinas, where it may dump up to 30 inches of rain over much of North and South Carolina, reports The Washington Post.

Sluggish or stalled hurricanes — like Hurricane Harvey that flooded swaths of Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast last year — can become even more dangerous as they stick around, pouring rain.

These types of slow-moving hurricanes are becoming more frequent: recent research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that storms slowed by an average of 10% over land between 1949 and 2016. Over that same time period, the average global temperature rose 0.5 degrees Celsius. (Warmer air can hold more moisture, which allows slower storms to produce heavier rainfall.)

Residents of South Carolina and North Carolina’s low-lying barrier islands are preparing for the storm’s onslaught.

“I don’t think many of us have ever been through a Category 4. And out here we’re so fragile. We’re just a strip of land — we’re a barrier island. … Already we’re getting some overwash, the ocean is coming over 12,” Dawn Farrow Taylor, a resident of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, told the Associated Press.

Hurricane troubles may not end with Florence. Hurricane Isaac, which churning in the mid-Atlantic, has wind speeds of over 75 mph as of Monday morning, though the NHC expects Isaac to weaken as it approaches the Caribbean. Behind Isaac, Hurricane Helene is rapidly gaining strength, with wind speeds of over 105 mph. Helene is moving in a west-northwest direction at 16 mph.

Meanwhile in the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Olivia is heading towards Hawaii. The storm is predicted to hit the Hawaiian Islands on Wednesday morning, according to the NHC..

Read more of Business Insider’s hurricane coverage:

  • A hurricane with 130 mph winds headed for the East Coast of the US has strengthened to a Category 4 storm
  • Hurricane Florence and two other hurricanes are swirling in the Atlantic — here’s what they look like from space
  • Astronauts in space just photographed 3 threatening hurricanes lurking in the Atlantic Ocean

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