Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100 miles per hour (170 km per hour) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 mph (224 kph) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill. "Today the threat becomes a reality". But Luettich said it is still not well understood how factors like rain accumulation and land saturation affect river and coastal flooding during major storm events.
NASA also recorded what it called "stark and sobering" video footage of Florence from the space station on Wednesday. Because the storm was so strong earlier in the week, it built up a wall of water which will push inland as the storm surge. BBC News reports that over 10 million people are under a storm watch as the East Coast braces itself for this hot, wet natural disaster. It's now predicted to make landfall near Wilmington and then head west across SC.
Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
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Several Horry County area communities are enacting ocean bans and curfews as Hurricane Florence moves closer to making landfall. At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).
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Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity. "Because it's Mother Nature". "Leaving is such a problem with the traffic going out", Jennie told VOA Thursday afternoon as she strolled along the shore of Carolina Beach near Wilmington, North Carolina. That's enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times.
The fierce winds of Hurricane Florence are weakening as it creeps closer to North Carolina but the impact of the vast storm will still be catastrophic for millions of people.
Bertha Bradley said she has never favored evacuating ahead of hurricanes.
Baltimore County officials said Thursday that they placed emergency personnel on "high alert" should there be flooding and outages, and urged residents to make preparations just in case. "Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together".
He warned residents to be prepared for mass power outages that could last for days or weeks, echoing the sentiments shared by Duke Energy on Wednesday. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. As of 8 a.m., the hurricane is predicted to make landfall along the coast of the Carolinas tomorrow (Sept. 14), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center.