Hurricane Florence Rocks Wooden Pier in Nags Head

Instead of evacuating some people are kicking back with beer and pizza

Instead of evacuating some people are kicking back with beer and pizza

And as the storm pushes inland, it could dump 6-10 inches as far inland as Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina as well as in Roanoke, Virginia, he said.

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.

Folks in Charleston, South Carolina, who have chosen not to evacuate, are preparing for a nasty storm that could make landfall right in their backyard.

But the storm still carried "very risky winds", the Center added.

But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". Waves off the shore of North Carolina have already gotten as high as 13 feet, he saYS.

Florence's expected slowdown means a prolonged period near the coast, said the hurricane center's Joel Cline.

The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.

Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 165 kph after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.

Police patrol past boarded up shops along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that it could be centered over southwestern Pennsylvania by early Tuesday morning, potentially bringing more rain to Maryland and another surge of floodwaters down an already swollen Susquehanna River.

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One electricity company fears that three-quarters of its four million customers will lose power as a result of the storm, and may not be reconnected for weeks.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Mr Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

And don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Two amphibious Navy ships are on standby to respond and provide disaster relief after Florence moves through.

Officials say anyone who has not heeded mandatory evacuation orders is on his own.

But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast for days - will bring life-threatening storm surge and torrential rains.

"Sometimes these systems, they expand", she said.

In Myrtle Beach, ABC correspondent Pete Combs painted a starker picture of those who made a decision to stay in place.

Air Force General Terrence J O'Shaughnessy, head of US Command, said search and rescue is a top priority but that the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of rescuers. "We're able", he said. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

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