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It’s here: First bands of Florence strike Midlands, Lexington as tropical storm

Morehead City, NC, area under water after Florence dumps 15+ inches of rain

The National Weather Service tweeted that Hurricane Florence had already dumped over 15 inches of rain over Morehead City, North Carolina, by 2 p.m. Friday. Several videos by the NWS showed major flooding in the NC town.
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The National Weather Service tweeted that Hurricane Florence had already dumped over 15 inches of rain over Morehead City, North Carolina, by 2 p.m. Friday. Several videos by the NWS showed major flooding in the NC town.

Columbia got its first swing from Florence on Friday night, as the storm’s powerful bands of rain and wind crept into the Midlands.

The storm’s bands, hitting the Lexington County area around 8 p.m. Friday, have already knocked down trees and caused power outages in the Midlands, according to the National Weather Service.

The Category 1 hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon.

It’s expected to dump 3-7 inches of rain on the Midlands, with wind gusts of up to 50 mph, said Mike Fries, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia. “The outermost bands are just starting to get into Columbia,” Fries said.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said to expect major flooding over the weekend as Tropical Storm Florence continues its track across the state. The storm is expected to dump 15-25 inches of rain across the Grand Strand and PeeDee areas.

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Wind speeds should increase late Friday, reaching 30 mph sustained winds overnight and about 40 mph early Saturday, Fries said.

“It’s going to be a real slow ramp up,” Fries said. “The winds will taper off before the rain does.”

The real threat for Columbia is flooding, Fries said. The following counties are under a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

  • Lancaster

  • Chesterfield

  • Newberry

  • Fairfield

  • Kershaw

  • Saluda

  • Lexington

  • Richland

  • Lee

  • Sumter

  • Orangeburg

  • Calhoun

  • Clarendon

Florence officially made landfall off the North Carolina coast at 7:15 Friday morning. Although it was downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall, Florence has already proven to be dangerous, claiming the lives of at least five in North Carolina.

Emergency officials have warned against downplaying the storm based on its category.

Categories are defined by wind speed, not size or a predicted amount of rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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Hurricane Florence began its path across the Atlantic Ocean, eventually landing near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. Here are NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center images of its track.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Irma impact on Miami-Dade

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