Hurricane Florence: 1000mm of rain forecast for North, South Carolina

Dangerous’ Hurricane Florence threatens at least 5 million people

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.

McMaster and state officials urged residents eager to return home to be patient, stressing Florence will be a long-term event, with prolonged river flooding, power outages and road closures likely to extend well into next week.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, but it's still expected to be very unsafe due to its expansive wind field. The winds had been as high as 140 miles per hour earlier in the week. Some residents enjoyed a few final hours of normalcy by ambling along the city's riverwalk with dogs and children.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm's strength should continue through Thursday.

The overall trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge". "I am frightened about what's coming. We just need to figure out how to make it through". "We know that this is an extremely risky situation", Cooper told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.

"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said.

Energy companies have also warned that the storm could knock out power for the foreseeable future in some areas.

Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the Southeastern coast. The main highway in the Outer Banks was closed in parts as seawater pushed in.

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In the midst of what's being called a "monster storm", some US residents are welcoming Hurricane Florence with parties.

The hurricane centre also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm Carolina Beach.

Having so many systems moving across the Atlantic at once also complicates forecasting because they influence one another, Blake said.

All four major U.S. airlines have said they are capping selected airfares below what last-minute tickets would cost.

After criticism of his administration's response in Puerto Rico to last year's Hurricane Maria, which officials there said was responsible for 3,000 deaths, Mr Trump has vowed a vigorous response to Florence and defended his handling of Maria.

In Charleston, South Carolina, some residents were making preparations to leave Tuesday while others planned to ride out the storm.

If the rain forecasts hold true, it could take some time for not just planes, but cars, trucks, trains, and even some emergency vehicles to return to the hardest hit areas.

Mr Trump provided no evidence to support his challenge on Maria.

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