Hurricane Florence: 150,000 lose power as storm pummels Carolinas

21 Hurricane Florence Could Bring Up To 30 Inches Of Rain To Carolinas

Florence has been bearing down on the Carolinas for days, and it has expanded in size, with tropical-storm-force winds extending almost 200 miles from the storm's eye.

As Florence reaches landfall, storm surges are the biggest concern, with 49% of USA hurricane deaths attributed to surges.

HO/AFP/Getty Images In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the US east coast as seen from the International Space Station.

Florence, though downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained unsafe and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore. "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored". On the inland side facing the river, Cramer says rising waters will very likely be "lapping at the first floor of our elevated homes".

Ten miles (16 km) away in Wilmington, wind gusts were stirring up frothy white caps into the Cape Fear River. "I am frightened about what's coming". It's just more than what we can do there.

For people who stayed behind near the coast, or find themselves facing the brunt of the storm, officials are offering safety advice.

As the storm approached, Michael Cramer, the town manager of Carolina Beach, N.C., told NPR's Morning Edition that "easily a third of our community will be underwater" if the worst predictions are fulfilled.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale but it is still packing hurricane-force winds of 165 kilometres per hour (105 miles per hour), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As of 10am Thursday (local time), Florence's top winds were 177km/h, and it was marching northwest at16km/h, about 257km east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 329km east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so is nearly over.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

The hurricane center also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

On Monday, with the storm appearing to shift south, McMaster, the SC governor, ordered schools in Aiken County, near the Georgia line, to close for the rest of the week to free up shelter space for hurricane evacuees.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.

The City of Myrtle Beach, Horry County and other surrounding areas have implemented a curfew beginning Thursday night as Hurricane Florence begins to impact the Grand Strand.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents not to "underestimate" the storm. Instead, they drove 150 miles (240 km) inland to his mother's house in Durham.

Zookeepers and veterinarians resolved to hunker down with the creatures and see them through the storm.

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