'Not a pretty sight': Hurricane Florence has experts anxious

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it is still considered an extremely risky and life-threatening storm.

Early Wednesday afternoon in North Carolina, the storm was centered 700 kilometers (435 miles) off the coast, moving at 26 kph (16 mph) towards the United States coastline. Its maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 miles per hour.

Expected to make landfall by Friday, the impact of the storm will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

"These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction [of] the storm's motion", the agency said.

The latest storm surge has some areas under over 8 feet of water.

The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then slog its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses and farm fields.

"This storm is ... nothing like you've ever seen", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Trucks are rushing into the region to restock store shelves, but Peggy Dorf, a freight and logistics market analyst for DAT Solutions, says they won't be for much longer.

More than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuations in the Carolinas and Virginia, and about 30 million across the Southeast will be affected if the forecast holds, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Older homes and less-reinforced homes will sustain some wind damage as well.

Mayor Joe Benson of Carolina Beach, a small town near Wilmington with a permanent population of about 6,300, said he believes half of the residents have stayed on the island.

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That's because the weather systems that usually push and pull a storm are disappearing as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

Carla Mahaffee said she would be riding out the storm with friends, as they do during every hurricane. She packed up what she could and took a ferry Tuesday night.

"But afterwards, I would expect that he will do that", Hannity said, referring to the decision to end the Mueller probe.

This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite image taken on September 13, 2018, shows Hurricane Florence beginning to hit the U.S. east coast.

Next week, when Florence has finally passed the Carolinas and moved into the Ohio Valley, the rain will have been the big story.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that storm surge watches and warnings are in effect for the entire North Carolina coast and parts of SC.

Emergency preparations included activating more than 2,700 National Guard troops, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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. It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

Florence's expanse has even captured the attention of the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, who have been tweeting pictures of the storm back to Earth.

Six feet of storm surge could carry large objects like cars underwater and leave lower levels structures submerged in water, according to Dr Postel. "If God's coming for you, you can't run from him". "We have a day off. Let's get drunk!'" said Jordan Berry, the barman at Cape Fear Wine and Beer, a local haunt where sports programming had been replaced by weather forecasters on the television screens lining the walls of the bar.

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