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With Hurricane Florence making landfall Friday morning at Wrightsville Beach, Charlotte waited and braced for the storm’s impact .
At the coast, the (Raleigh) News & Observer reported that hundreds of people were rescued or awaiting rescue as floodwaters rose in New Bern. More than 92,000 Duke Energy customers were without power in New Hanover County and 24,470 in Carteret County were in the dark — almost all of Duke’s customers there. Storm surges and rising tides battered the coast.
Meanwhile, Friday started partly cloudy and cooler in Charlotte, with an 18 mph wind and gusts over 30 mph, the National Weather Service reported.
But conditions are expected to deteriorate over the weekend: The Charlotte region is in line to get 10 to 15 inches of rain — more than enough to cause flooding — and the region has a better than 50 percent chance of seeing sustained tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or higher).
Those winds are likely to arrive Friday during the day, the National Hurricane Center predicted. Charlotte will be at an “extreme” risk of flooding Saturday and Sunday, forecasters warn, as heavy bands of rain move in from the coast.
Duke Energy has warned that 1 million to 3 million of its customers could lose power over the next few days, out of a total customer base of 4 million. Charlotte Fire Department Chief Reginald Johnson warned residents earlier this week to be prepared to be without power for several days.
Charlotte city offices are closing at noon Friday, while Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and some other systems in the region, such as Union and Cabarrus counties, are closed as well. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is still open, though other regional airports including Wilmington and Charleston, are closed. Those closures have impacted some scheduled flights at Charlotte by main carrier American Airlines, but American has not started mass cancellations locally.
The Charlotte Area Transit System said buses and light rail are operating normally, but flooding this weekend could cause delays or route changes.
A flash flood watch will be in effect for Charlotte from Saturday through Monday.