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Live updates: Charlotte remains in Florence’s path for heavy rains, tropical storm wind

The latest Florence track, impact on Charlotte

WBTV shares Hurricane Florence's track and what to expect in Charlotte, North Carolina and in South Carolina.
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WBTV shares Hurricane Florence's track and what to expect in Charlotte, North Carolina and in South Carolina.

Florence drops to Cat 1, but still ‘life-threatening’

Thursday, 11 p.m.: Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane but was delivering “life-threatening storm surge” along the NC coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Florence had 90 mph winds, and the “threat of freshwater flooding will increase” in the days ahead, according to the advisory. The storm was about 60 miles east of Wilmington.

Islamic Center opens doors to evacuees

Thursday, 9:24 p.m.: The Islamic Center of Charlotte, 1700 Progress Lane, tweeted that it is partnering with United Muslim Relief to provide fresh water and basic aid packs to evacuees and is “opening our doors as a shelter ... to help those in need.“

Charlotte braces for more rain than expected

Thursday, 8:21 p.m.: Charlotte’s airport can expect 10.83 inches of rain during Florence, according to the latest projected rainfall totals from the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C. That’s up significantly from Wednesday’s NWS estimate of 6.3 inches.

Areas to the south and east of Charlotte could see even more rain and flooding — 14.5 inches in Monroe, 13.67 inches in Concord, 14.7 inches in Albemarle and 18.46 inches in Anson County, said meteorologist Doug Outlaw of the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C.

Higher amounts also are forecast for cities to the west of Charlotte, with Gastonia at 9.64 inches, Lincolnton 8.78 inches and Shelby 6.8 inches.

The mountains should see far smaller amounts, according to Outlaw, with only 3.54 inches anticipated in Asheville.

Government offices to close at noon Friday

Thursday, 5:03 p.m.: City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County government offices will close at noon Friday ahead of the storm, the city and county announced in a joint news release.

CharMeck 311 and 911 emergency services will remain active. CharMeck 311 will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Storm emergency updates: http://charlottenc.gov/emergency/Pages/default.aspx .

Volunteers respond to call to deliver meals to shut-ins

Thursday, 4:52 p.m.: Friendship Trays, the nonprofit that provides meals for shut-ins, the elderly and people who can’t cook for themselves, was overwhelmed with help Thursday after putting out word on social media that they needed volunteer drivers, said executive director Lucy Carter Bush. So many people stepped up, they couldn’t answer all the messages.

“It was wild,” she said. “We got what we needed and then some.”

Friendship Trays was delivering both meals and emergency packs with canned goods, to make sure their clients could get through the weekend.

Monday is still up in the air, Bush said. Since no one knows how conditions will develop over the weekend, she doesn’t yet know if they’ll be able to make deliveries. If they can, they will need more volunteers, she said. They’ll post updates on the website, www.friendships.org, and through a recording on their phone line, 704-333-9229.

Mecklenburg County jail inmates allowed free calls

Thursday, 4:33 p.m.: Sheriff Irwin Carmichael approved a request from Global Tel Link Inc. to offer inmates two free 5-minute phone calls per day Thursday through Saturday.

“We know how important it is to get reassurances from loved ones that they are taking the necessary steps to prepare,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Plenty of space at Red Cross shelters

Thursday, 4 p.m.: The Observer visited each of the Charlotte area’s five Red Cross shelters on Thursday, and all five had plenty of space available.

The busiest, at East Mecklenburg High School, had only about a quarter of its beds occupied at midday. Several shelters were almost empty Thursday.

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Ashley Gilmore and her bearded dragon, Dovahkiin, evacuated from Carolina Beach to the North Mecklenburg High School shelter. Jane Wester jwester@charlotteobserver.com

All of the shelters accept pets, and by 4 p.m. Thursday, the North Mecklenburg High shelter was housing two dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon.

Atrium Health offers free ‘Virtual Visits’ for those impacted by Florence

Thursday, 3:53 p.m.: Atrium Health is offering free ‘Virtual Visits’ for Carolinians impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Those with minor injuries and illnesses, such as cold and flu, pinkeye, and urinary tract infections for females, can choose a “video visit” from their homes to speak with a medical provider for free.

Visit AtriumHealth.org/VirtualVisit.

Also this week, virtual care provider Doctor On Demand said it will cover video visits at no cost to anyone impacted by the storm, through Sept. 30. The typical wait time to connect with a doctor is under 5 minutes, according to a news release.

9,000 electric co-op customers without power at coast

Thursday, 3:45 p.m.: About 9,000 N.C. electric cooperative customers were without power Thursday afternoon along the North Carolina coast, as the effects of Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas.

Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative reported 8,200 members without power, according to the co-ops outage map. About 6,700 of those outages were in Carteret County, which includes Morehead City.

Jones-Onslow Electric Membership Corporation reported 370 members without power at about 3:20 p.m. on Thursday.

The outages continued to fluctuate with more expected as conditions worsen along the coast.

No changes yet for buses, light rail in Charlotte

Thursday, 3:15 p.m. The Charlotte Area Transit System isn’t planning any changes to service this weekend for Hurricane Florence, but the agency is watching the storm closely. Flooding is likely, and that could disrupt operations.

“Currently, CATS is operating normal service as we monitor Hurricane Florence,” said spokeswoman Krystel Green, in an email. “Safety remains our first priority. If flooding occurs, riders should expect delays/detours.”

Riders can check for service disruptions online at ridetransit.org or on Twitter at @CATSRideTransit. You can also call 704-336-RIDE (7433), but Green warned that wait times for a customer service representative could be long.

Charlotte City Council meeting canceled Monday

Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Charlotte City Council’s planned zoning meeting Monday evening has been rescheduled for the following week, city officials said Thursday.

The meeting had been planned to start at 5:30 p.m. Instead, City Council will be combining the agendas for its next two meetings, in a special meeting that will start at 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

City Council will meet in Room 267 before moving to the main meeting room. The intent is for council to finish its action review and business agenda, before moving on to consider rezoning requests at 6 p.m.

Latest Florence track still heads near Charlotte

Thursday, 2:30 p.m. The National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. forecast shows Florence’s expected path is mostly unchanged: Straight west from Wilmington, with Charlotte likely to get a soaking. The storm is expected to move across southeast North Carolina and central South Carolina after making landfall Friday somewhere near Wilmington.

The track shows west of Columbia, S.C., by Sunday morning, then moving northwest into western North Carolina. Charlotte could see 6 to 12 inches of rain, more than enough to cause flooding, and tropical storm-force winds starting Friday.

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The 2 p.m. Thursday track for Florence.

A booming Charlotte braces for Florence at construction sites

Thursday, 2:10 p.m. Construction sites around Charlotte continued preparations ahead of the storm on Thursday, as workers cleared out job sites and prepared for the possibility of high winds and heavy rains.

At JE Dunn construction sites, the focus has been on securing objects that could become projectiles in high winds, said vice president Richard Cerretti. One of JE Dunn’s largest projects is the Grand Bohemian Hotel at the corner of Trade and Church streets, he said.

Crews have cleared out anything that could become airborne, including plywood, forming materials and securing job-site fences and temporary restrooms.

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A tower crane at the site of the former Charlotte Observer building, a block from Bank of America Stadium. John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

“We’re assuming that our biggest threat here in Charlotte will be massive rains, so we’re pre-positioning pumps and adjusting job site drainage so we can start getting back to work as soon as the storm has passed,” Cerretti said.

The tower crane at the Grand Bohemian will be set to spin in the wind, he said. That approach is common as construction cranes are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds of about 100 mph, said Dennis Kenna, president of Pineville crane company Heede Southeast.

Read more about how Charlotte’s tower cranes will make it through Florence here.

American Airlines still hasn’t mass-canceled Charlotte flights

Thursday, 1:30 p.m. American Airlines said Thursday afternoon that its Charlotte Douglas International Airport flights remain on schedule, as the carrier continues to monitor Florence.

American has canceled flights at other airports in the Southeast, some of which, like Charleston, Wilmington and Columbia, S.C., are closed.

Charlotte Douglas remains in the “no impact to operations at this time” category, the airline said shortly after 1 p.m. Change fees are waived for travelers whose flights are impacted, American said.

The airport remains open, and plans to put workers on 12-hour shifts starting Friday.

Read more details about Florence’s effects on air travel here.

Huntersville mayor signs emergency declaration

Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla signed a declaration extending Mecklenburg County’s state of emergency to his town.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Mecklenburg County commissioners’ Chairwoman Ella Scarborough and officials from the county’s six towns signed the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County joint state of emergency proclamation on Wednesday.

Shelters are ready to receive evacuees in Charlotte

Thursday, 12:48 p.m. Five shelters were up and running in Charlotte Thursday morning on the campuses of South Mecklenburg, East Mecklenburg, North Mecklenburg, West Mecklenburg and Ardrey Kell high schools.

Olympic High School’s shelter shut down Wednesday evening after officials discovered the air conditioning didn’t work, along with some other mechanical issues, local Red Cross disaster program manager Kristjan Rahe said.

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Kristjan Rahe opening a box of “comfort kits” full of toiletries for shelter guests evacuating from Florence’s path. Jane Wester

West Mecklenburg’s shelter opened at 8 a.m. Thursday morning after equipment was moved over from Olympic, Rahe said. Red Cross workers were still putting up signs and unloading equipment around 11 a.m., and no one needing shelter had arrived yet.

“We’re not going to put any cots (out) until we start seeing bodies,” Rahe said. He estimated that West Mecklenburg’s gym can sleep 150 people, if needed.

Across the Charlotte shelters, there was still plenty of room available midday Thursday, Rahe said. Everyone arriving at a Red Cross shelter gets a kit with basic toiletries, Rahe said, and food is provided on site. The shelters all accept pets.

People do not need to have identification to stay at the Red Cross shelters, Rahe said, and shelter workers will not ask about immigration status.

“It’d be better to have ID — it’d help speed the process — but no, they don’t have to have it,” he said.

Latest Track: A bit closer to Charlotte

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Thursday 11 a.m. track

Thursday, 11:40 a.m. The latest update from the National Hurricane Center edges the expected path of Florence a bit further north, and a bit closer to Charlotte.

The 11 a.m. Thursday track still shows Florence making landfall Friday near Wilmington, then churning across southeast North Carolina and central South Carolina through Sunday. The storm could then turn north and towards western North Carolina.

With winds and rain stretching hundreds of miles beyond the center, Charlotte is in line for heavy rain. The National Hurricane Center is predicting 6 to 12 inches. Charlotte has a more than 60 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or more) while Union County and areas to the southeast have more than 70 percent odds of seeing such winds.

Businesses line up to help with Florence preparations

Thursday, 11:30 a.m. A number of businesses and nonprofits throughout the Charlotte region are offering free services or goods to assist with storm relief and preparation:

So that hurricane-impacted areas have access to Internet, Charter Communications has opened up 5,100 Spectrum Wi-Fi hotspots in the Carolinas. The hotspots will be available “until further notice” in coastal communities such as Myrtle Beach as well as areas farther inland like Charlotte and Raleigh. A map is abailable online here https://www.spectrum.com/wifi-hotspots.

BJ’s Wholesale Club is offering residents of the Carolinas and Virginia three-month free trial memberships to stock up for the storm. People who sign up for the trial can buy a membership afterward for $25, which is half off the regular price. Locally, BJ’s has stores in Charlotte, Concord, Mooresville and Pineville.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is offering free guest passes for all computers at all of its branches during the duration of the bad weather. Normally there is a nominal fee for this, as well as the requirement of an ID.

Blue Blaze and Resident Culture are storing cold, filtered water in kegs and tanks that they are giving away this week. Those seeking water can swing by with their own containers to fill up for free.

Charlotte Motor Speedway said Tuesday it would open its campgrounds to anyone evacuating the storms.

Hurricane Florence evacuees and disaster relief workers can find free temporary lodging through Airbnb in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia.

Coworking space CoCoTiv is offering free coworking space to evacuees who need a place to work.

Don’t throw away your hurricane supplies, group says

Thursday, 11:20 a.m. After the storm and its aftermath have passed, Loaves & Fishes, the nonprofit that runs 33 emergency pantries throughout Mecklenburg County, has a request: Gather any nonperishable food, including bottled water, that you bought and didn’t use and donate it to the pantries.

“Don’t toss them out,” said executive director Tina Postel. “We’ll take your bottled water and your canned good. We feed people all year long. We’ll have needs once Florence is long gone.” You can take them to a pantry (find a list at www.loavesandfishes.org) or to the main warehouse, 648 Griffith Road, Suite B.

Read more here about what non-profits are doing to prepare.

Central Piedmont Community Colleges closes through Monday

Thursday 11:08 a.m. With Florence approaching, CPCC said Thursday that it’s shutting down after 5 p.m. The school will remain closed all weekend, and classes and events will be canceled through Monday.

School officials said they expect o make an announcement Sunday or Monday about when classes will resume.

CMS stands mostly alone on early closing

Thursday, 10:30 a.m. Few public schools in the Charlotte region followed Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s lead in closing Thursday. The only others appear to be Chester County Schools in upstate South Carolina and KIPP Charlotte, a charter school.

Union County, Cabarrus County, Kannapolis city, Rowan-Salisbury and Lancaster, S.C., have announced Friday closings. Other nearby districts and most of the charter schools in the Charlotte area are still monitoring conditions. State Superintendent Mark Johnson is tracking all North Carolina closings, including charter schools, at www.ncsuperintendent.com/closings

Like CMS, Chester County is using some schools for evacuee shelters, according to The Herald. KIPP is part of a chain that includes two schools further east.

CMS cited the shelters that have opened in five high schools as one of the reasons for closing schools, though it’s unclear how big a role that played. The district statement noted that the possible stream of evacuees brings new people and heavy traffic to those schools. But parents frustrated with the closing on a sunny day noted that about 170 schools are not serving as shelters.

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Want to check for power outages across the Carolinas?

Thursday, 9:45 a.m. As Hurricane Florence hits North and South Carolina, you can check where power is out through the websites below.

Duke Energy customers: Duke’s power outage map can be viewed at https://www.duke-energy.com/outages/current-outages-m.If residents see a power line problem Duke Energy Carolinas customers should call 800-769-3766 and Duke Energy Progress customers should call 800-419-6356.

N.C. Electric Cooperatives customers: The N.C. Electric Cooperatives outage map can be viewed at: https://outages.ncelectriccooperatives.com/outages/maps.

South Carolina Electric & Gas customers: The SCE&G outage map can be viewed at: https://www.sceg.com/outages-emergencies/power-outages/outage-map.SCE&G customers can report outages at 888-333-4465.

Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina customers: The S.C. electric coopertavies outage map can be viewed at: https://outages.ecsc.org/outages/maps.

Santee Cooper in South Carolina customers:The Santee Cooper outage map can be viewed at http://stormcenter.santeecooper.com/default.html.

Latest track: Charlotte still in the path

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The 8 a.m. Thursday storm track for Hurricane Florence.

Thursday, 8:45 a.m. The 8 a.m. projection from the National Hurricane Center shows Charlotte is in the path of torrential rain and possible high winds this weekend. The track carries Florence ashore near Wilmington on Friday, then across southeastern North Carolina and into South Carolina.

By early Sunday, the storm could be centered around Columbia, S.C., before curving north and west into western North Carolina early Monday.

Charlotte is still expected to get 6 to 10 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center, with areas to the south and east of Union County in line for 10 to 15 inches. The Charlotte region has a higher than 60 percent chance of seeing sustained tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or higher) over the next five days.

Read more details on the possible Charlotte impact here.

The National Hurricane Center says the center of Florence will move over southern North Carolina Thursday, but is expected to make “a slow motion over eastern South Carolina” Friday night through Saturday.

Scooters are off the streets

Thursday, 7:37 a.m. You won’t be able to ride an electric scooter in Charlotte this weekend: Both Lime and Bird have taken theirs off the roads.

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Bird and Lime scooters lined up on South Caldwell Street in uptown Charlotte. Ely Portillo

“In the interest of safety, Lime staff is proactively securing vehicles in communities that may be impacted by Hurricane Florence. All vehicles in affected areas will be offline starting Thursday morning,” the company said in a message sent to customers Thursday. “We will redeploy vehicles when it is safe to do so.”

Bird, the other dockless scooter company, was also removing its scooters, Observer news partner WBTV reported. The scooters, operating under a pilot program, have become increasingly popular in recent months, with riders zipping through uptown, South End and other neighborhoods. Read more here.

Union Co. schools closed Friday

Thursday, 7:25 a.m. Union County Schools will open Thursday but close Friday in anticipation of Florence’s arrival. All district offices will also be closed Friday. After school activities will be canceled starting Thursday as well.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are closed Thursday and Friday, while Cabarrus County is closed Friday. Other nearby school systems, such as Iredell and Gaston counties, say they’re monitoring the weather and haven’t announced any decisions yet.

Read more about the CMS closing and reaction here.

Thursday, 7 a.m.

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The 5 a.m. Thursday track for Hurricane Florence from the National Hurricane Center.

The 5 a.m. track for Florence remains largely unchanged, with Charlotte in line for torrential rain as the storm lumbers through the region this weekend and into early next week.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting the storm will make landfall near Wilmington on Friday and slice across the southeast corner of North Carolina, before heading west across South Carolina. The projected track takes it slowly across South Carolina through Sunday, then through the upstate and into western North Carolina on Monday.

But wind and rain will extend hundreds of miles beyond the storm’s center. Charlotte is expected to get 6 to 10 inches of rain — enough to cause flooding — and regions south and east of Union County could see 10 to 15 inches. Tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or more) are likely to hit Charlotte by Friday. The area has a better than 60 percent chance of seeing such winds, forecasters predict.

See more details on the possible Charlotte impact here.

Wednesday, 11 p.m.

Florence weakened to a Category 2 hurricane, as maximum sustained winds decreased to near 110 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported in a public advisory update.

“Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall” are still expected along the Carolinas’ coast, according to the advisory.

“Little change” in the storm’s strength was expected before its center reaches shore, the hurricane center said in its update.

Florence was about 280 miles east-southeast of Wilmington and about 325 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, according to the advisory.

Wednesday, 8:55 p.m.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased to 115 mph, “but don’t let that fool you,” the National Weather Service warned.

“This ‘weakening’ only refers to maximum winds,” the NWS tweeted. “The wind field has expanded and rainfall/storm surge potential are still at catastrophic levels.”

Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.

Florence is expected to dump 6.3 inches of rain on Charlotte’s airport, the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., said in an update of projected Florence rainfall totals for Charlotte and surrounding cities and towns. Charlotte is expected to see its most intense rainfall on Sunday, when 2.75 inches could fall from morning through night, NWS meteorologist Doug Outlaw said.

While parts of the Charlotte area could see some rain on Friday, Saturday night is when the precipitation will really begin to build, with three-fourths of an inch expected in the southern half of Charlotte, Outlaw said.

Florence is forecast to deliver even more rain to other parts of the Charlotte area, Outlaw said: 7.45 inches in Rock Hill, 6.76 inches in Monroe and 6.43 inches in Hickory.

Wednesday, 5:10 p.m.

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The 5 p.m. track for Hurricane Florence.

Florence’s projected track as of Wednesday evening looked largely unchanged from forecasts earlier in the day. The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will move inland from the South Carolina coast across the state between Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Then, the remnants of Florence could turn northwest and cross into southwest North Carolina by Monday afternoon. Wind and rain will be widespread for hundreds of miles beyond the storm’s center. The Charlotte region could see 4 to 10 inches of rain and tropical storm-force winds, bringing a risk of floods and widespread power outages.

Read more details on the possible Charlotte impact here.

Wednesday, 4:05 p.m.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system will open its computers to nonmembers for free throughout the duration of Florence. The library normally charges people without a library card a small fee to use its computers and requires ID.

Opening the computers up for free to nonmembers is meant to help evacuees who are expected to arrive in Charlotte through this weekend.

“We understand evacuees need reliable access to computers and the internet, so we’re happily waiving all fees or residency restrictions,” library officials said in a statement.

Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is closing Thursday and Friday in anticipation of dangerous wind and rain, setting off an immediate clamor from families of approximately 148,000 children whose lives will be disrupted even before the storm reaches Charlotte.

“There isn’t even a chance of rain in the forecast tomorrow! I can maybe (and that is a BIG MAYBE) see Friday but not Thursday,” one comment on the district’s Facebook message said.

The closing will affect child care centers and prekindergarten programs that are linked to the CMS calendar as well. And the possibility of massive power outages and storm damage raises the prospect of additional closings early next week.

CMS said the decision was based on the unpredictability of the storm, the need to use several schools as shelters for people being evacuated from the coast and the distractions posed to staff and students who have family in areas that could be devastated.

More than 60 North Carolina districts, most of them in the eastern part of the state, had already announced closings. Most in the Charlotte region have not announced anything yet.

Read more about the closing and reaction here.

Wednesday, 2:25 p.m.

Central Piedmont Community College is holding off on canceling classes ahead of Hurricane Florence — at least for now.

“At this time, it appears Mecklenburg County will not feel any significant impact from the storm until late in the day Friday or sometime Friday night,” college officials wrote in a message to students and staff on Wednesday. Classes will proceed as normal on Thursday. The college will announce whether or not Friday classes will be canceled on Thursday afternoon.

UNC Charlotte announced Tuesday that it’s canceling all classes from 5 p.m. Wednesday on. CPCC said that because it doesn’t have students living on campus, it doesn’t need to cancel classes earlier to allow students to travel home if they want to, as many four-year schools have done.

Wednesday, 2:10 p.m.

Get ready to spend some time in the dark.

Duke Energy expects between 1 million and 3 million of its customers in the Carolinas will lose power because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath, David Fountain, Duke Energy North Carolina President, said Wednesday. That could be a majority of its customer base.

The company serves 4 million residential and business customers in North and South Carolina. Duke has 20,000 workers, including workers from utilities in other states, dispersed across the Carolinas to restore power after the storm, Fountain and Duke’s storm directer Howard Fowler said.

“We are ready to attack this storm and restoration” when it is safe to do so, Fowler said. He added that it could take a couple of days for storm to clear before workers have the opportunity to go into areas and assess damage, meaning power could be out for an extended period of time in some areas.

See more about the expected power outages here.

Wednesday, 2:07 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. track for Hurricane Florence shows no major changes, with the storm still expected to hit Wilmington and the South Carolina coast around Myrtle Beach before moving inland across South Carolina this week and into Monday. The region still has a better than 50 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds over the next five days, and 6 to 10 inches of rain.

Check out the latest details on the possible Charlotte impact here.

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The 2 p.m. Wednesday track for Hurricane Florence

Wednesday, 2:05 p.m.

There’s no change yet to the Charlotte Area Transit System’s schedule in advance of Florence. The Charlotte Area Transit System is operating normally so far and will make decisions about the buses and light rail when weather from Florence arrives in the Charlotte area, CATS spokeswoman Krystel Greene said.

The weather would have to be “extreme” to shut down the whole system, Greene said, but heavy rain and flooding may cause delays and detours this weekend.

People can check @CATSRideTransit on Twitter or ridetransit.org for immediate updates.

Wednesday, 12:25 p.m.

Officials are urging Charlotte residents to help minimize flash flooding by clearing storm drains around their house. The region is forecast to get 6 to 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence over the weekend, enough to flood many roads, creeks and low-lying areas.

Clearing debris like leaves, sticks and trash from around storm drains can help mitigate flooding by allowing water to drain away more quickly instead of pooling.

“The city of Charlotte will be working hard in the next few days to clear storm drains but if you see any that are clogged and are able to do so, please help out by clearing them!” Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said on Twitter.

Crews from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Stormwater Services are clearing debris from creeks and other likely flooding sites this week in advance of Florence as well.

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A storm drain in Charlotte clogged with debris on Ideal Way. Courtesy Julie Eiselt

Wednesday, 11:20 a.m.

Shelters are opening across Mecklenburg County in preparation for Florence. Charlotte Fire Battalion Chief Robert Graham, deputy director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management, said the American Red Cross is helping to open shelters, meant mainly for evacuees fleeing inland from Florence.

A shelter at East Mecklenburg High School opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday, he said, and South Mecklenburg High School has opened as well. Shelters at North Mecklenburg and Olympic high schools will open at noon, and a shelter at Ardrey Kell High School opens at 4 p.m. The shelters will be pet-friendly.

Graham said Charlotte-area residents who haven’t been able to find housing with family or friends can come to the shelters, too.

“We’re not going to turn anybody away,” he said. “However, at this time, the shelters are open primarily for folks who are evacuating from the coast, because they’re the ones who need shelter.”

Wednesday, 11:16 a.m.

The new projected track for Florence from the National Hurricane Center pushes the storm a bit further south, lingering off Wilmington before a possible landfall around Myrtle Beach on Saturday morning. The storm could then track across South Carolina over the weekend, with wind and rains extending hundreds of miles out from the center.

That could mean Charlotte gets swamped with 6 to 10 inches of rain, as well as gusty winds approaching tropical storm-force (39 mph or more). Check out the latest details on the possible Charlotte impact here.

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The 11 a.m. storm track for Florence from the National Hurricane Center.

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Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.

Charlotteans should brace for the effects of Hurricane Florence and prepare for the possibility of extended power outages and flooding, Charlotte Fire Department Chief Reginald Johnson said Wednesday.

“With the winds and amount of rain we’re going to see, we’re going to have trees down, power lines down,” Johnson said. “We’re going to lose power. Be prepared to be without power for 3-4 days.”

Florence’s track has shifted south and west over the past day, taking it through South Carolina and near Charlotte across the weekend. Although the forecast could change, Johnson said he’s expecting sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph, starting Friday night.

But it’s the rain that could really wallop Charlotte. The city could see 6 to 10 inches of rain, enough to cause flash flooding and flood roads around the city.

“The rain total is what should concern all of us,” said Johnson. “We are going to see some flooding here in the city.”

Residents should take the next day to prepare, officials advised.

“Be ready to sustain yourself for at least three days,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney. “Now is the time to get those preparations made.”

Observer staff writers Cassie Cope, Ann Doss Helms, Joe Marusak, Katherine Peralta and Kathleen Purvis contributed.





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