The Latest: Florence expected to weaken as flood risk rises
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Florence (all times local):
Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.
The National Hurricane Center says excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be “catastrophic.” In its 2 a.m. update Sunday, the center also says an elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.
Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.
At 2 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 25 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving west at 6 mph (9 kph).
North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.
After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Storm surges, flash floods and winds have spread destruction widely and the Marines, the Coast Guard and volunteers have used boats, helicopters, and heavy-duty vehicles to conduct hundreds of rescues as of Saturday.
The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm has now climbed to 11.
Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecaster warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring some of the most destructive flooding in North Carolina history.