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Members of Colorado Task Force 1, on the swift water team, head out to check on residents during Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Historic rainfall continues to wreak havoc in the Carolinas, where all-time rainfall records have already been broken. A swath of land between Wilmington and New Bern, North Carolina, is closing in on 40 inches of rainfall, as the heaviest rains begin to shift into a new, treacherous area: the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The big picture: The National Weather Service continues to warn of "catastrophic" and "life-threatening" flash flooding on Sunday as coastal North Carolina receives up to another half a foot of rain, since the circulation around the storm is still pulling in copious amounts of Atlantic moisture. The storm has killed at least a dozen people so far, and this number is likely to rise.

What's next: The heaviest rains are sliding to the northwest into higher terrain, which could yield higher rainfall rates and a high risk of mudslides and flash flooding in northwestern North Carolina and southwest Virginia. During the first part of the week, flooding is likely to spread from the Carolinas to the Appalachians, northwest Mid-Atlantic (possibly including parts of the Washington, D.C. area), and on north into New England.

Rainfall totals: Rainfall totals as of Sunday evening show the peak amount stands at 33.89 inches in Swansboro, North Carolina, which sets a record for the greatest amount of rain ever to fall from a tropical storm or hurricane in the state. It is also a 2-day and 3-day all-time rainfall record for the state.

  • North Carolina is now the third state to set all-time rainfall records in the past year, joining Hawaii (Hurricane Lane) and Texas (Hurricane Harvey).
  • Rivers will take several days to crest — many of them at record high levels — particularly in eastern North Carolina.
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Go deeper:

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28 mins ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

2 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.