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14 September 2018, 04:48 | Edward Lowe
FEMA officials wrote on Twitter people should not focus on the category of the storm - as of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 2 storm, indicating slower wind speeds - but rather should pay attention to the fact there will be extreme flooding in the Carolinas as a result.
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.
The first rains and strong winds from Hurricane Florence began hitting North Carolina early Thursday, leading the way for a storm packing 110-mph winds.
As of 5pm EDT (10pm BST) Florence was only 100 miles east-southeast from Wilmington, North Carolina and 155 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The downgraded status of the storm, which indicates that Hurricane Florence is moving at maximum sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour, means little in terms of its impact and deadly potential, according to Elliot Abrams, chief forecaster at Accuweather. The storm is expected to slowly move inland, battering much of the United States coast for days. Some regions are expected to receive more than 20 inches of rain from the hurricane and its giant knot of storm clouds. Visit our sister site Live Science for the latest Hurricane Florence forecast. Further inland, rain totals could reach 30 centimeters in the Carolinas, and up to 24 centimeters in the rest of the Carolinas and in southwestern Virginia.
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 9-13 feet deep, from Cape Fear, N.C., to Cape Lookout, N.C. "So the potential impact from the surge has not changed because the system is weaker", he said.
Brock, meanwhile, said the surges "are going to be a major problem way up into the streams and tributaries that come out of sound areas".
Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee Island, Ga.
Some people, such as Jennie, are refusing to heed evacuation warnings.
"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.
More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands have moved to emergency shelters.
If you've got a trip coming up to the Caribbean, be sure to check the forecast and the status of your flights with your airline.
Train travel: Amtrak has announced cancellations on northbound and southbound trains going through North and SC.
Gerst tweeted some more images and warnings to the people in the path of the storm. South Carolina's state capital Columbia is at only 89m (292ft). "We're kind of at the mercy of the storm". "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".
Why Hurricane Florence Is So Dangerous
Graphic shows the storm track of Hurricane Florence. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said. "We are sparing no expense". The storm was about 235 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and was moving at about 17 mph on Thursday.
U.S. east coast braced for catastrophic hurricane strike
Florence was expected to bring very heavy storm surge , rain and flooding to the entire region on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first waves directly kicked up by the huge storm system should begin coming ashore late Wednesday.
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