Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads, gorging rivers and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage the storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path. Florence, though downgraded to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, remained risky and unpredictable, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm late Thursday night, as it approached shore - but officials warned it was still very risky.

Some forecasters have predicted it could be the most powerful storm ever to hit the region. These could be as high as 13ft (4m) along parts of the North Carolina coast.

In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 90 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), dropping it to the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious.

Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have declared a state of emergency as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of rain on the area.

Florence's center will be moving inland very soon, said the National Hurricane Center in its 5 a.m. update, but it's expected to slow down after it reaches the coast Friday.

"Sometimes these systems, they expand", she said.

But North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".


The hurricane centre also said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as the storm neared shore. "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".

Hurricane Florence is coming.

Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina.

"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said.

General O'Shaughnessy said there were about 7,000 U.S. military personnel now in place and ready to respond to the storm, along with ships, helicopters, high-wheeled vehicles and other equipment.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said North Carolina is likely to see eight months' worth of rain in two to three days.

Residents of the Carolinas and neighboring states should consult local authorities for any evacuation orders and other preparation guidelines.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

"When that last ferry pulls out.it's unnerving to see it pull away and know, 'That's the last chance I have of getting off this island, '" she said Wednesday.

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