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Rain and wind from Hurricane Florence begin lashing U.S. coast

Rain and wind from Hurricane Florence begin lashing U.S. coast

The National Hurricane Center says "a life-threatening storm surge is now likely" along the North and SC coasts as Hurricane Florence approaches the US eastern seaboard.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities. Weather forecasters also warn that the threat of tornadoes is increasing as the system draws closer to land. "We're going to be there to help", Cooper said.

Florence's winds have dropped from a peak of 140mph to 105mph, reducing the hurricane from a Category 4 to a Category 2.

Florence is now moving to the northwest at 17 kilometers per hour.

"Since the track is slower and the storm will reside in the area for a longer period of time rainfall amounts are expected to be extreme", Reid Hawkins, science officer for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a statement.

The storm's centre was about 85 miles east-southeast of Wilmington at around 8 p.m. EST. They also urged anyone who remained near the coast to flee.

The storm surge - often the most perilous risk to life posed by any hurricane - is expected to inundate areas along the coast with saltwater that's 9 to 13 feet deep, from Cape Fear, N.C., to Cape Lookout, N.C.

Photos of the beaches in North and SC show how serious it's going to be.

Just as Hurricane Florence closes in on the Southeast, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled - meaning far more people will get blasted with winds 74 miles per hour or greater.

Hurricane Florence weakened from a Category 4 down to a Category 2 storm Wednesday night but the massive system is still considered extremely risky and life threatening.

"Little change in strength is expected before the eye of Florence reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland", the Miami-based NHC said.

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"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said.

The deadliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland killed most of their victims with storm surge, including 2005's Katrina, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground.

"Ever stared down the gaping eye of a Category 4 hurricane?"

Alexander Gerst/ESA/NASA via AP This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018.

Tens of thousands of people are already without power.

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".

President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, and 1.7 million people have been warned to leave.

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.

He said there are about 7,000 United States military forces now in place and ready to respond to the storm - along with ships, helicopters and high-wheeled vehicles.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".


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