Photos Of Hurricane Florence Approaching North Carolina Are Terrifying

Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge.

"Even after Hurricane Florence makes landfall, it's still forecast to just crawl west over SC, gradually weakening to a tropical storm", said FOX 46 Meteorologist Tara Lane.

Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4 storm. The forecast track has the storm moving slowly along the coast throughout Friday and into Saturday.

Cooper requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state.

Experts agreed that despite Florence losing some power, it was still poised to sow just as much destruction - if not more. Weather forecasters also warn that the threat of tornadoes is increasing as the system draws closer to land.

Prisoners were affected, too.

At the time of writing, over 116,000 people were watching the storm approach the tower, which "is a privately owned surplus Coast Guard Light Station", that also doubles as a "unique adventure bed & breakfast" when the weather is more appropriate.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so in nearly over.

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

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Waves crashing well beyond the pier.

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Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

As of 8 a.m. ET, the NHC said Florence was centered about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane late Wednesday night as it approached North and SC.

In the meantime, "treat the inland flooding just as seriously as you would the storm surge", said Clark.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. After criticism for its response in Puerto Rico to last year's Hurricane Maria, which officials there said was responsible for 3,000 deaths, Trump has vowed a vigorous response to Florence and defended his handling of Maria.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles".

"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said.

"This is our only home".

"You're going to have damaging winds for a longer period of time", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in an update from the NHC.

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