'Catastrophic' Florence buffets US east coast

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

The Saffir-Simpson scale that meteorologists use to measure hurricanes reflects only the wind speeds involved in the storm, and right now Hurricane Florence's winds are hovering at maximum speeds of about 110 miles per hour (175 km/h).

Although Florence has been downgraded from a category four to a category two storm, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent. We will have catastrophic effects".

At 5pm pm (2100 GMT), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at five miles per hour, the NHC said.

Roslyn Fleming, 56, said her granddaughter was baptized in the inlet near where she lives in the coastal community of Sea Breeze and on Thursday morning she used her iPad to make a video of the scene.

A zoomed in image of the eye of Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.

The storm is not expected to change much in strength before making landfall.

Conditions are rapidly deteriorating along the coast of the Carolinas as Florence approaches.

The Wilmington area is also at the center of predictions for extreme levels of rainfall; while inland area can expect 7 to 20 inches, Wilmington can expect 2 to 3 feet of rain, according to the NWS - that's likely to eclipse the monthly record in the span of just several days.

Parts of North and SC are expecting "catastrophic flooding" due to Florence, despite it only being a Category 1 storm.

The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

The National Hurricane Center says that despite the gradual lowering in wind strength, the storm remains extremely risky because of the high volume of rainfall and storm surges predicted. But Luettich said it is still not well understood how factors like rain accumulation and land saturation affect river and coastal flooding during major storm events.

The Pentagon has dispatched two ships and a Marine unit offshore to provide help if needed.

"If you are not under an evacuation order, finish your preparations today".

Heavy surf crashes the dunes at high tide in Nags Head, N.C., on September 13 as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast. "If you're told to go, you need to go". Gerst pleaded with people living in the area to heed evacuation orders, warning them there is a "nightmare coming for you".

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who chose to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said "protection of life is the absolute highest priority". "We're able", he said.

Florence is forecast to significantly weaken as it crawls across central South Carolina Saturday. The category ranking of storms only describes the speed of the storm's sustained winds.

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