Coastal residents wait, watch as Florence’s fury begins

Hurricane Florence starts flooding parts of the Carolinas

"Now is the time to shelter from life-threatening wind", the agency added. Hurricane's typically lose power relatively quickly once they make landfall, but a stalled-out hurricane can recharge itself from warmer coastal waters while simultaneously dumping huge amounts of water on the already-inundated southeast. Favorable wind patterns. Higher sea levels that exacerbate storm surge.

-Size: Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles.

-Intensity: maximum sustained winds at 105 miles per hour, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour but still extremely unsafe.

The center of Florence is expected to approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The outer rain bands of the massive storm will continue moving over the Outer Banks, lashing the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that are a popular tourist destination.

The storm's forward motion has slowed 11km/h since Wednesday (local time), which was predicted as the storm nears the coast.

Services and flights have been suspended on Thursday and Friday at Wilmington International Airport on North Carolina's coast. This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area.

But in Kinston - a town of almost 21,000 people living 30 miles of west of New Bern, where the Neuse River widens on its way to the Outer Banks - the governor's urgent warning went largely unheeded.

Allison James, who lives at Huntersville, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, says based on reports this area would not be directly affected.

It is unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were urged to evacuate. It's expected to make landfall later today. "From the storm surge alone, tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded in North Carolina".

"I can't emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding".

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

Forecasters' European climate model is predicting 2 trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com.

It has become likely that the storm will reverse course early next week and turn back north toward West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, albeit significantly weakened. The strong winds will last into Saturday. The water can reach up to 9 feet in some areas during high tide.

Winds of up to 110km/h are also expected for several days as the weather system slowly grinds over. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.

Power company Duke Energy said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

Florence is most likely to strike the coastlines Thursday afternoon or evening.it will stretch further inland throughout the day on Friday.

Hurricane Florence is being seen as a monster of a storm zeroing in on the Southeastern coast with more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights.

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.

Citing a current official, Politico also reported that aides were put up in a hotel at taxpayer expense on the weekends Long was in North Carolina.

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