Hurricane Florence slams Carolina coast

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Only 1,713 branches face a high risk - a probability of more than 60% - of facing intense tropical winds.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

The National Hurricane Center says that despite the gradual lowering in wind strength, the storm remains extremely risky because of the high volume of rainfall and storm surges predicted. "Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances", the advisory said.

Some 11,000 power outages have been reported in North Carolina.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm. But previous research has shown that the strongest hurricanes are getting wetter, more intense and intensifying faster because of human-caused climate change.

Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 110 miles per hour (175 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC. It was moving 10 miles per hour toward the Port City, the advisory said.

Hurricanes can push masses of water from the sea over land when they come ashore, raising local sea levels by as much as 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Hurricane Center.

Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet.

- The storm surge is expected to worsen late Thursday and into early Friday during high tide in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Florence could dump more rain on the state than Hugo because it's expected to stop over SC for several days, and could move across the SC coastline.

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The storm is expected to affect airports in Georgia and Virginia.

"This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina", Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday morning. This implies that water, even more so than wind, is the most unsafe element of a major storm. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the centre, and tropical storm effects reach 195 miles, The Independent reported.now less than 100 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, the "meandering" Florence has been described as a "horrific nightmare storm" because meteorologists can not pinpoint where it will strike. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The number is expected to rise, the flight-tracking service said. "We're about to be in the thick of it".

The administration said that as Florence, a Category 2 storm, is expected to make landfall in the US southeast coast on Friday, the massive storm will obstruct electricity transmission and distribution, while widespread evacuations and disruptions to normal business operations could impact demand patterns for transportation fuels.

As of 4 a.m., Florence was 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. "Until we can't. See what happens".

"You have water coming onshore and you can rainfall coming down that's trying to move out", he said. "It will probably fall faster than it can leave". Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for.

"This is a life-threatening situation". It could take several weeks to restore electricity.

Millions of people could see their financial services disrupted, too.

"If you are not under an evacuation order, finish your preparations today". On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars.

And about 46 miles north of Emerald Isle in New Bern about 150 people were waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters, WXII-TV reported. Residents of Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties were told they would not need to evacuate with residents on the rest of the coast.

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