Hurricane Florence: Four reasons to fear this storm

Wind, flooded roads herald approach of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina

It was downgraded to a category two storm with 105mph (165km/h) winds, and the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said it does not expect much change in the strength before the eye of Florence makes landfall.

Power outages in North Carolina have increased as a weakened and slower Hurricane Florence moves closer to the coast.

The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Thursday night that a storm surge of 10 feet above normal level had already been reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C. Rainfall of up to 40 inches could occur in isolated areas of North and SC.

In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 90 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), dropping it to the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage would be all the worse if it lingered on the coast.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 90 miles per hour (144 kph) by nightfall.

Despite the surge, a storm surge warning has been discontinued north of Duck in North Carolina.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said. NASA via AP 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.

"We lost power at home so we figured we should come to the bar", said Carla Mahaffee, a 33-year-old actor from Wilmington, as she drank a cider.

Petrol stations in the area are reporting shortages and energy companies predict that one to three million homes and businesses may lose power. "Today the threat becomes a reality".

Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence in New Bern, N.C., Thursday.

Hurricane Florence still a threat despite downgrade
Officials in the potential path of Florence urged people to evacuate their coastal homes and directed drivers away from the coast. Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as 3 kilometers (2 miles). Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

A man also died while plugging in a generator in Pender County, and rescue crews were unable to reach a woman who had suffered a heart attack.

Almost 2 million coastal residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders, although it remains unclear how many have actually done so.

About half of all deaths in hurricanes come from storm surge.

"It is scary. When somebody tells you something like that, it's my cue to get out".

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said.

"I built this house myself, so I'm not anxious at all, I know it's solid", he said.

President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority" and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for. "It's the whole picture is basically what we're after", Waugh said. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

The Colgate Raiders were set to take on the Furman Paladins in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday.

Thunderstorms and heavy rains have already started lashing out regions in the United States southeast coast.

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