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Parts of a South Carolina neighborhood are flooded from Hurricane Florence. Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

After record-shattering rainfall from Hurricane Florence, rivers in North Carolina are continuing to rise to never-before-seen levels, inundating entire communities and prompting thousands to hastily evacuate. At least 23 people have perished in the storm and its aftermath so far, and this number is likely to rise.

The big picture: Florence, along with Hurricane Harvey that struck Texas last year, has finally confirmed that measuring a hurricane's intensity based solely on its winds is misleading at best. Florence, for example, set all-time rainfall records for any tropical storm or hurricane in North and South Carolina, and it has sent many rivers rising to record levels.

By the numbers:
  • 4: Number of states that have broken all-time rainfall records for tropical storms or hurricanes over the past year.
  • 35.93 inches: Rainfall total in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, now the record for the state from any tropical weather system, as well as a record 2-day and 3-day total statewide.
  • 34 inches: Rainfall total in Swansboro, North Carolina.
  • 61.8 feet: The height at which the Cape Fear River is forecast to crest in Fayetteville, North Carolina, this week. This is just one of the many waterways that is prompting evacuations, as the river is rising by about 50 feet from its pre-storm level. The heightened river level is high enough to send water careening into neighborhoods around it and possibly into parts of the city.
  • 24.2 feet: The forecast crest for the Cape Fear River near Burgaw, North Carolina. This would also set a record, beating the roughly 2-foot-benchmark set in 1999.
  • 23.02 inches: Rainfall total in Wilmington, North Carolina, making this the wettest single weather event ever observed there.
  • 23.81 inches: Rainfall total in Loris, South Carolina, which set a record for the heaviest amount of rainfall from any tropical weather system in state history.
  • 86.22 inches: Amount of rain that has fallen in Wilmington, North Carolina, so far this year, making it the city's wettest year, with three months still remaining in 2018. "It is possible the annual rainfall total will end up over 100 inches in Wilmington," the NWS noted in a statement on Monday morning.
  • 0.1%: Chance of such heavy rainfall amounts occurring in any given year, per the National Weather Service, making this yet another 1-in-1,000-year event.

What we're watching: the city of Wilmington, which has been battered for hours by tropical storm force and hurricane force winds. It was cut off from the rest of the world on Sunday night and Monday, with flooding to the west, north and south. Access to roads and ports may be restored by Monday afternoon.

  • In Lumberton, North Carolina, officials are rushing to bolster a levee that is in danger of failing. Extensive flooding also occurred there during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The bottom line: Unlike a hurricane's dramatic winds, heavy inland rains and freshwater flooding is a slow-moving, creeping disaster that unfolds over days.

Go deeper: The ties between Hurricane Florence and climate change; Florence's catastrophic, deadly flooding worsens in Carolinas

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 mins ago - World

True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds

Expand chart
Data: IHME; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

There have been twice as many deaths from COVID-19 around the world as have been reported, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which analyzed excess mortality and other factors.

The big picture: The U.S. has undercounted by over 300,000 deaths, while the death tolls in India and Mexico — second and third on the list, respectively — are nearly three times the official numbers, according to the analysis.

Top Wall Street cop says report on meme stocks is coming

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wall Street's top regulator says a report examining meme stock mania will be coming "sometime this summer."

The big picture: It will "detail the range of activities" that came out of the January events," SEC chair Gary Gensler said Thursday at a third congressional hearing held to dissect the GameStop trading phenomenon.

Exclusive: Jennifer Garner to be featured in Mother's Day vaccination campaign

Jennifer Garner. Photo by IngleDodd Media/via Getty Images

Actress Jennifer Garner will team up with the Biden administration in a coordinated campaign to encourage vaccinations around Mother's Day, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: The administration is eager to keep up the pace of inoculations now that all adult Americans are eligible but the pace of vaccinations is starting to slow.

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