What is a storm surge? Hurricane Florence brings 'catastrophic flood' warnings

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Hurricane Florence brought a storm surge of some 3 meters (10 feet) as it began battering the United States east coast early on Friday.

Roslyn Fleming, 56, said her granddaughter was baptized in the inlet near where she lives in the coastal community of Sea Breeze and on Thursday morning she used her iPad to make a video of the scene.

In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.

ADCIRC predicts Florence's winds will cause 9 to 13 feet of storm surge in some areas along the North Carolina coast.

BB&T, which is based out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and operates 1,900 branches across the country, is likely to be among the most affected by Hurricane Florence. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said. "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".

Water levels have risen in Pamlico Sound and Emerald Isle and forecasters expect them to keep going up as the tides come in. And when it comes to impacts like storm surge, size matters just as much as the winds, says Rick Luettich, a coastal physical oceanographer at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Institute of Marine Sciences. Most of the damage during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 in North Carolina came from inland flooding - 31 people died and almost 100,000 homes were destroyed. It is expected to stall and hover over the Carolinas, dumping enormous amounts of rainfall on the region, and causing massive destruction and flooding.

Its forward movement slowed to 12 miles per hour and top sustained winds stayed at 110 miles per hour.

At 11:00 pm (0300 GMT), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at six miles per hour, the NHC said.

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About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been put under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders to avoid what emergency officials called a "once in a lifetime" storm.

Florence is expected to make landfall at noon local time on Friday and is moving towards land with wind speeds of 90mph (150 km/h).

And the storm is still expected to bring catastrophic winds, rain, storm surges and flooding, the National Hurricane Center briefing said. Weather forecasts estimate that the Category 2 storm could dump 17 trillion gallons of rain on the East Coast.

The Carolinas will bear the brunt of the storm, but as it moves inland, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland will also be hit.

When it comes to floods, extreme caution has been advised by state and local officials: just several inches of running floodwater can knock a full-grown person off their feet, and just a foot of running water can sweep a medium-sized passenger auto off the road.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power is lost.

Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but then reconsidered.

Instead, they drove 240km inland to his mother's house in Durham. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island.

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