Coastal residents wait, watch as Florence's fury begins

Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometers from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometers. "But they may not be that much different in terms of wind speed", said Luettich.

Luettich and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame and University of Texas spent 30 years developing ADCRIC, a computer model that gauges storm surge and other impacts of major coastal weather events.

Storm surge is deadly.

Storm surge is caused in part by the brunt of hurricane force winds.

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads, gorging rivers and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage the storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path. Florence, though downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained risky and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said. That makes it hard to project how the region will ultimately be affected.

Yesterday, Dr Greg Postel, the network's hurricane specialist, said three feet (0.9m) of water was enough to knock people off their feet, potentially carry cars away and flood lower levels of buildings.

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Florence is forecast to significantly weaken as it crawls across central South Carolina Saturday.

American Airlines said it had canceled more than 800 flights from Wednesday through Sunday because of the storm. The Saffir-Simpson scale that meteorologists use to measure hurricanes reflects only the wind speeds involved in the storm, and right now Hurricane Florence's winds are hovering at maximum speeds of about 110 miles per hour (175 km/h).

Tens of thousands of people are already without power.

More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. Her team manages 32 wild horses living in the Rachel Carson Reserve near Beaufort, North Carolina.

At 5pm pm (2100 GMT), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at five miles per hour, the NHC said. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.

"There definitely is a risk, but the horses are smart".

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, 'The time to prepare is nearly over.

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