'Don't play games with it' - Donald Trump issues grim warning as Hurricane Florence takes aim at southeast of the US
People who thought they were safe from the onslaught of Hurricane Florence began boarding up and Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency as uncertainty over the path of the monster storm spread worry along the South-eastern coast.
Closing in with terrifying winds of 215kmp/h and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning (US time) along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Centre said.
While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of South Carolina in danger and imperilled Georgia, too.
At the White House, President Donald Trump urged people to "get out of its way."
"Don't play games with it. It's a big one," he said.
With the change in the forecast, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies, and asked people to pray for those in Florence's path. North and South Carolina and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.
The shift in the projected track had areas that once thought they were out of range worried. In South Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.
"We've had our lessons. Now it might be time for the exam," Baxley said late in the morning.
Early Thursday morning (NZT), the Category 4 storm was centred 785 kilometres southeast of Wilmington, moving at 24kmp/h with the potential for 1 to 3 feet of rain in places — enough to touch off catastrophic flooding and an environmental disaster, too, if the water inundates the region's many industrial waste sites and hog manure ponds.
The National Hurricane Centre's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Friday before finally blowing ashore. That could punish a longer stretch of coastline, and for a longer period of time, than previously thought.
The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge."
If some of the computer projections hold, "it's going to come roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say, 'I'm not sure I really want to do this, and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,'" said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground forecasting service.
As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and South Carolina and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow," warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast."
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less dangerous, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Centre discussion.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, Ohio vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. Most other beachgoers were long done.
"It's been really nice," Nicole Roland said. "Also, a little creepy. You feel like you should have already left."
For many of those under evacuation orders, getting out of harm's way has proved difficult, as airlines cancelled flights and motorists had a hard time finding gas.
Michelle Stober loaded up valuables at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.
"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary. Everyone was sold out," she said.
Sun shines on 1 NEWS weatherman Dan's te reo efforts with 'big improvement'
The sun's shining on 1 NEWS weather presenter Dan Corbett's efforts to use te reo in his broadcasts during Māori Language Week and a big improvement last night has been praised by viewers.
Dan made a few stumbles on Māori words in his first attempt at the language on air on Monday night and put these down to a "brain freeze moment".
Dan, who adlibs his weather reports rather than scripting them, said he'd put some of the Māori words in the autocue to help him along for the rest of the week.
Last night he delivered a faultless intro to the weather in te reo and used several Māori words to describe weather conditions through his report - such as mahana for warm.
Viewers noted his progress as they commented via Facebook.
"How cool was Dan’s second attempt tonight! Absolutely nailed it - ka pai!" Sarah McBride messaged.
Lizzy Stubbington wrote: "Great improvement from last night Dan, you showed great tenacity and delivered like a pro tonight."
While Joe Sauvao enthused: "Good on you TVNZ Weather man. You stuck to te reo and improved."
Dan's use of Maori has even persuaded viewer Annabel Kateto stick with 1 NEWS.
"So awesome to see 1 News truely embracing Te wiki o Te Reo Māori. the support given to Dan Corbett too is awesome, and should always be encouraged. A really cool effort from everybody at 1 News and something you should be proud of and celebrate. I’ve never really cared which news I watch but I’ll watching 1 from now," she said.
Marianna Beech was similarly impressed.
"I so love Dan speaking in te reo Maori. Kai pai Dan. I understood every kupu you said. I know it has to be trying for you but you make me proud. I've never heard the weather said in te reo before..well not counting Te Karere. Big ups TV One for giving it your best," she wrote.
Jenny Clements wrote that she'd love to see subtitles with te reo on the news so non te reo speakers "can learn as we hear".
Dan says he's been taking te reo classes over the winter and this year thought he'd give it a go during Māori language week.
It seems 1 NEWS viewers are overwhelmingly glad he did.
Weather to 'start feeling like spring' as high arrives over New Zealand
A high arriving over New Zealand from the west will see the weather "feeling like spring" from tomorrow, according to 1 NEWS weather presenter Dan Corbett.
The high's arrival will bump temperatures up into the mid to late teens for much of the country tomorrow, including the bottom of the South Island.
The long range forecast from Weather Watch paints an even rosier picture, with temperatures in Hawke's Bay possibly rising into the 20s over the coming days.
"By Thursday and Friday and into this weekend, Hawke's Bay may be in the low 20s, maybe climb towards the mid-20s should the nor'westers arrive with afternoon sun," Weather Watch says.
Looking ahead, NIWA's Ben Noll appeared on TVNZ1's Breakfast recently to outline what Kiwis can expect this summer.
He said we shouldn't see sustained scorching temperatures like those caused last year by the marine heatwave.
However beachgoers can rejoice as a predicted El Nino means it could be a drier-than-normal summer.
1 NEWS weatherman Dan Corbett tackles te reo, to high praise from viewers
1 NEWS weather presenter Dan Corbett has won the admiration of viewers for his efforts speaking te reo on-air and says he'll be giving it another go tonight and for the rest of Māori Language Week.
Dan decided to kick off his Māori Language Week broadcasts by weaving in some te reo last night.
He stumbled on a few Māori words but was encouraged by news anchors Wendy Petrie and Simon Dallow from their news desk in the studio.
“Unfortunately last night it was a ‘brain freeze’ moment. I do not script my weather, it is all adlib,” Dan said today.
“I will definitely be giving it another go tonight and for the rest of Māori Language Week, but I might put some of the Māori words in the autocue just to help me along!”
Viewers have been full of praise for his efforts at the indigenous language.
"To Your lovely weather man, Hahaha good on the weather man on one news trying his best to speak in Maori and tell us the weather lol mate you did an awesome and entertaining job," Aneka Phillips posted on Facebook.
Another person wrote on Twitter: “Weatherman Dan is the MAN. Huge respect for him for persisting through a mind blank on live telly when giving te reo a go."
Another shared: "Huge congrats to Dan the Weatherman for his te reo! Ka pai to you."
Dan says he's been taking te reo classes over the winter and this year thought he'd "really give it a go during Māori Language Week".
"I wrote out the weather forecast in Māori and had one of the Te Karere presenters check it through.
“Having done so many weather broadcasts over the years I don’t normally think twice about what I say, it comes naturally from knowing the daily weather maps. I was in the te reo part of my weather forecast and that is where my brain froze up!"
Dan says the support he’s received has been amazing.
The consensus from viewers seems to be keep up the good work.