Hurricane Florence: Your guide to the story

Most of those cancellations are tied to the approaching hurricane, now a Category 2 storm with winds expected onshore late Thursday at more than 80 miles per hour. And to put things in perspective, the eye of the storm is as big as the city of Toronto.

Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 105 miles per hour (165 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that storm surge watches and warnings are in effect Wednesday for the entire North Carolina coast and parts of SC.

Officials say Hurricane Florence could bring not only flooding but also landslides to SC. The storm is expected to slowly move inland, battering much of the USA coast for days.

Still, there are several other North and SC airports in the storm's path.

The Hurricane Center reported heavy rain bands with tropical-storm-force winds had arrived in the North Carolina Outer Banks.

"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told The Associated Press.

The overall trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Hurricane Hazel struck the North and SC border area 64 years ago in 1954.

Expected to make landfall by Friday, the impact of the storm will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, unsafe surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes. "So the potential impact from the surge has not changed because the system is weaker", he said.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the NHC said.

Vehicle rams through public square in China killing several
He had previously served several prison sentences for crimes including arson and assault, the Beijing Youth Daily said. Initially the government said three people died, but raised the death toll to nine in a statement late on Wednesday.

People on barrier islands or peninsulas were running out of time Wednesday to retreat by bridge or ferry.

Hurricane Florence, after weeks of warnings, has finally begun to touch down in the Carolinas on Thursday afternoon.

Some people, such as Jennie, are refusing to heed evacuation warnings.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. Low-income residents and the elderly face disproportionate consequences from lack of food and water, loss of electricity, and other elements indirectly and directly attributable to a hurricane.

Her friend Kate is refusing to evacuate as well because of "the idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more".

"If you have not left now, you need to leave", McMaster said.

In the midst of what's being called a "monster storm", some USA residents are welcoming Hurricane Florence with parties.

Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority".

"In [regions] where we have known precipitation extremes, we have been able to detect an increase in precipitation extremes due to a warming climate."

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