Florence being felt at Coastal Wildlife Refuges
Hurricane Florence’s travel plans remain somewhat uncertain, even as it nears land with the promise of once-in-a-lifetime rainfall and flooding.
The storm, now a Category 2 with winds hitting 110 mph, remains aimed at Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) meteorologist Kevin Scasny told Service officials in a conference call with the agency’s Southeast regional office in Atlanta. The hurricane should strike the coastal city Friday, he said, but outer bands are already being felt at coastal wildlife refuges.
Latest models now show the hurricane heading down the coast, possibly veering out to sea, before returning to land somewhere between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, Scasny said.
“I would expect change to be the major name of the game,” he said.
Although the downgrade to Cat 2 is encouraging, Florence is still very large — about 200 miles across — and very slow. That means, according to current predictions, it may park over North and South Carolina for two days, with powerful winds and record-setting rainfalls. That rain, in turn, will cause record flood levels in some North Carolina rivers.
The Service has closed more than 20 national wildlife refuges in the storm’s path and has instructed employees to seek safety with their families consistent with evacuation orders currently in place.
When the impact area is safe, three task forces of Service personnel, all volunteers, will head in with chain saws and heavy equipment to clear downed trees, restore refuge infrastructure that was damaged, and assist communities. The task forces are currently on hold while the Service waits to see where they will be needed most.
For more information, visit fws.gov/hurricane/florence/.
Mark Davis, Public Affairs Specialist
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