Florence makes landfall in North Carolina as Category 1 hurricane

An image provided by the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Sept. 14, 2018 that shows the forecast track of Florence, a Category 1 hurricane that made landfall on the morning of Sept. 15 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. EPA-EFE/Courtesy NHC

Florence, South Carolina, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- The center of the eye of Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday morning near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, as a Category 1 storm, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

In its latest bulletin at 8 am, the Miami-based NHC said the hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers (90 miles) per hour, with higher gusts, and was moving toward the west at about nine kilometers per hour.

On that forecast track, the hurricane will gradually move inland «across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina» on Friday and Saturday.

Emergency teams were in the process of rescuting around 150 people trapped in a coastal town in North Carolina, while numerous homes are already under water and more than 400,000 customers are reportedly without electricity in the Carolinas.

Florence made landfall at 7.15 am, according to the NHC, which in recent hours has warned that the hurricane will bring up to 40 inches of rain to some areas of southeastern coastal North Carolina and far northeastern South Carolina and produce «catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.»

Florence is a large storm with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 130 kilometers from its center and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 315 kilometers from its center.

But authorities are most concerned about inland flooding and storm-surge flooding from Florence.

A storm surge of about three meters above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service’s office in Morehead City, North Carolina.

Duke Energy, a utility company that serves the Carolinas, has estimated that up to 3 million customers could lose electricity as a result of the hurricane.

The NHC’s latest bulletin also said a «few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina» on Friday.