Hurricane Florence: Your guide to the story

A close-up view of the eye of Hurricane Florence

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

According to CNN, Florence's center will approach the coasts of North and SC late Thursday and Friday, with the actual landfall expected to come on Friday afternoon.

At 11 a.m., the storm was located about 520 miles east of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving northwest at 15 mph with 130 sustained winds, forecasters said. Additionally, tornadoes could arise in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday.

In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later. In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.

Will Epperson, 36, a golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm in his home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity. The storm's size and area affected by hazardous winds have actually expanded, and the threat from storm and rain-induced flooding "have not changed" tweeted Rick Knabb, The Weather Channel's tropical weather expert and former Hurricane Center director.

Dominion, which supplies electricity in Virginia and North Carolina, is warning customers in both states to prepare for a multi-day storm that could bring high winds, flooding and widespread power outages.

A hurricane warning was issued for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee Island, Ga.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Rainfalls up to 40 inches (102 centimeters) in some places are expected in a region ranging from coastal North Carolina to northeastern SC, with flash flooding likely, according to the NHC.

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The huge storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane overnight, but forecasters warned that it still packed a risky punch - 110 mile-an-hour (175 kph) winds and torrential rains. Many major roads and arteries have reversed traffic flow to help residents evacuate quickly.

The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes. Parts of North Carolina could get 40 inches (1 meter) of rain.

"This is a big storm, physically, very large". Coastal storm surge is expected to be as high as 13 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday on Wednesday as the town appeared to be emptying. "I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked".

Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch areas, also beginning later this morning local time.

Although the storm is approaching the US coastline as a Category 2 hurricane after weakening from a Category 4 storm, that doesn't mean the storm will be gentle. I believe that was a Category 1 storm when it hit Charlotte.

Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems now in the Atlantic.

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