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Flash Flood Watch issued for Western North Carolina

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This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (NOAA via AP)

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Widespread heavy rainfall is expected as Hurricane Florence moves toward the mountains. The National Weather Service said the storm will gradually weaken over the region, though heavy rain will continue even after winds taper off.

The NWS said 6-10 inches of rain are expected, with isolated amounts up to 15 inches possible, particularly along the east and south sides of mountain ridges, including the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect from Saturday morning through Monday evening for many counties in WNC and the Upstate of South Carolina.

Watch areas include:

WNC

  • Avery
  • Buncombe
  • Burke Mountains
  • Caldwell Mountains
  • Eastern McDowell
  • Eastern Polk
  • Greater Burke
  • Greater Caldwell
  • Greater Rutherford
  • Haywood
  • Henderson
  • Madison
  • McDowell Mountains
  • Mitchell
  • Northern Jackson
  • Polk Mountains
  • Rutherford Mountains
  • Southern Jackson
  • Transylvania
  • Yancey

Upstate

  • Greenville Mountains,
  • Oconee Mountains
  • Pickens Mountains

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