Weakening winds from Hurricane Florence approach the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence becomes Category 2 storm still poses grave threat

Hurricane Florence: Outer Banks of North Carolina begin to feel effects of powerful storm

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said. Forecasts show those currents giving Florence no sense of direction in a day or so.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Florence's forward speed has slowed to 5 miles per hour as it approaches the Carolinas as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds.

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries, but authorities said more than 100 people were rescued further north in New Bern, where the downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was under water.

The hurricane centre is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 130 km/h before landfall, but with rainfall in the 50 to 75 centimetre range and almost four metres of storm surge.

At 11 p.m., the center of the Category 2 hurricane was about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Tropical-storm-force winds are between 39 and 73 miles per hour.

But the real threat from Florence isn't from wind, it's from water, with the National Hurricane Center warning of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall".

The result: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.

The National Weather Service out of Columbia, along with the National Hurricane Center, has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Clarendon County, along with Chesterfield, Lee and Sumter counties.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.

"The latest forecast brings the center of Florence close to the southeast North Carolina coast on Friday, then Florence is expected to drift slowly southwest to west over the weekend." reads a release from the NWS.

President Donald Trump both touted the governments readiness and urged people to get out of the way. "Dont play games with it. Its a big one", he said at the White House.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

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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.

Duke Energy, the nation's No 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

But Jeremy Tominack said he stayed so he could keep an eye on his home and help his fellow Wilmington residents after the storm passes.

Myrtle Beach International Airport in SC has also suspended commercial operations, and urges passengers to check with their airlines - not the airport - about upcoming itineraries.

Another video from NOAA's GOES-East weather satellite caught a different view of Hurricane Florence.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.

Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday.

The timing of the official landfall could change with any shift in Florence's track over the next 12-18 hours.

The hurricane is expected to begin making landfall today, Thursday September 13 as more than 1.5 million people are ordered to evacuate their homes in the US.

A storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, North Carolina, at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on the Neuse River, courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

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