Putting the enormity of Hurricane Florence into perspective

The clouds within the red square are the outer bands of Hurricane Helene

The clouds within the red square are the outer bands of Hurricane Helene

Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.

He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the centre of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles out.

Will Epperson, 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 changed their minds due to its ferocity.

The storm is also predicted to bring historic rainfall of up to 35 inches to the Wilmington region.

He said as FEMA administrator he followed policies 'according to regulation and bottom line is we'll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on and own up to any mistakes and push forward and keep going, keeping moving on'. "We're about to be in the thick of it".

Florence is forecast to hit land on Friday and the U.S. National Weather Service predicts some areas will see more than 750 millimetres of rain.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles off shore versus heading inland immediately.

But the storm still carried "very unsafe winds", the Center added. "It's something we haven't seen. ever".

Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.

"It doesn't matter where you are", he said.

Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas
More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. US carriers were also waiting to see what impact Florence could have on airports near Washington and in northern Virginia.

The effects of Hurricane Florence have already arrived on the East Coast of the United States, where massive floods have already begun and as much asthe National Hurricane Center forecasts 40 inches of rain and 11 feet of flooding from the storm surge. Gov. Roy Cooper warned, describing day after day of disastrous weather to come.

FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate.

"While the weather itself is an issue operationally, of more importance is that our people have to be safe and so it may not be possible for them to get to work, particularly in evacuation areas", Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins".

"This is a life-threatening situation".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump said on Twitter.

Holly Waters, 54, a retired special education teacher from Wilmington, said she was happy to have a place to go to relax before the storm worsened.

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars.

Charlotte-based Duke had posted roughly 96,000 outages in Carteret, Craven, Pamlico, Onslow and New Hanover counties, while the co-ops listed more than 74,700 outages in the same general area.

Even the thousands of emergency workers on scene - ranging from power workers to National Guardsmen to cops, many of them volunteers from across the country - could only sit and wait for Florence to do its worst before they could do their best.

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