Weather Channel’s Cantore has ‘pit in stomach’ over Florence, urges residents to heed evacuation warnings

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With Wrightsville Beach in the path of Category 4 Hurricane Florence, television news and weather crews from around the country descended on the area. But none attracted more attention, and frank worries from locals, than veteran Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore, who is famous for being in the path of the most deadly and destructive storms.

On Tuesday, he did live shots for the Weather Channel underneath Johnny Mercer’s Pier. A steady stream of locals came to see the show, have their photo taken with him and even get a selfie or too. And while he often gets a lot of attention at these events, he said it doesn’t always make him feel good.

“It’s nice when it’s a non event. But when we have a situation like Florence, it’s different,” he said. “I have a pit in my stomach. It’s such a beautiful place here. ”

While Cantore said he appreciated the attention, he also urged local residents to take the storm very seriously.

“The next 36 hours are crucial,” Cantore said on Tuesday. “If the winds are 150 miles an hour, oh my God. If they are 125, there’s a chance to weather it. We can’t tell exactly where it will go and whether it sits offshore or goes inland will be the difference between 10 inches of rain or 35 inches of rain. Sometimes you have to wait it out.”

It’s not Cantore’s first visit to Wrightsville Beach. He said he has been here on at least half a dozen occasions, including hurricanes Fran, Dennis and Matthew. In fact, Wrightsville Beach is the setting for a Weather Channel commercial that shows people running in fear at the sight of him. Cantore said his visit to Wrightsville Beach was his 97th trip to the danger zone of a named storm.

Cantore warned locals to heed evacuation warnings.

“There’ll be no one to come get you. It’s not fair to ask emergency responders to risk their lives for yours, so be smart and be prepared,” Cantore said.

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