Hurricane Florence: What we know and what to expect

Hurricane Florence projected path as of Thursday

Officials warn of life-threatening storm surges in both North and SC as the hurricane moves towards land with maximum sustained wind speeds of 90mph (150 km/h).

At this time, a large northward drift along the coast is looking much less likely with Florence. "A slow motion across portions of eastern and central SC is forecast Friday night through Saturday night".

As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Early on Friday, the downtown area of the city of New Bern, on the Trent and Neuse rivers near the North Carolina coast, was underwater as emergency crews conducted several rescues, according to reports on social media.

In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 150kph, dropping it to the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The actual landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - will be Friday afternoon at the earliest, said Neil Jacobs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There is the potential for waterspouts and tornadoes in advance of, during and after Florence makes landfall.

Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm. The town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 20 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge.

According to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, thirty-thousand people lost power across the state as of 5 PM and that number continues to rise.

"And from that point, we started hearing where people were saying on phone calls, 'I love you, ' to their family members because they were not sure they were going to get out of it alive", she said Friday. "Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said.

Hurricane Florence approaches North and SC, a veteran reporter has issued a dark warning to those refusing to flee.

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In Shallotte, N.C., a coastal town near the border with SC, emergency orders forced a Waffle House to shut down - an act that was widely seen as a sign of respect for Florence's imposing size and strength. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets.

As the Carolinas braced for the storm Thursday, roads and tourist shops were closed, regional flights were canceled and residents who didn't evacuate were working to protect their property against the severe weather ahead.

In certain parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline (particularly the Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC area), storm surges are predicted to be higher than ten feet.

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland declared states of emergency. Its forward movement increased slightly to 9 km/h Hurricane-force winds extended 150km from its centre. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

If you have a two-story home, the first floor is totally flooded in a 9-foot surge.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

"Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread inland across the remainder of the warning area through Saturday", the NHC said.

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