More than a thousand flights canceled in advance of Hurricane Florence

Time nearly up: Fierce Hurricane Florence aims at southeast US

Time nearly up: Fierce Hurricane Florence aims at southeast US

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is now lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane -force winds and a life-threatening storm surge.

Tominack said he is seeing extremely strong winds, but he has not yet had any issues with flooding.

At 8 a.m., the center of Florence was 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of Wilmington.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale on Thursday evening and was moving west at only 6 miles per hour (9 km/h). The storm surge will continue into Friday, and catastrophic inland flooding is expected near and north of Florence's path.

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, South Carolina, Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

There was some good news overnight. The warning also includes Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, large bodies of water in North Carolina that could also see significant flooding.

New Bern is a city along the Neuse River and is near the Atlantic coast, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Wilmington.

With South Carolinas beach towns now more in the bulls-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. Cherry pickers jutted into the darkening sky, and rusty utility pole drills stood at the ready.

Duke Energy Co. said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

Isaac Ginis, a hurricane expert at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, said that with rising temperatures, hurricanes are likely to become more intense, bring more rain and pose more risks to coastal areas from higher seas and bigger storm surges and waves. The centre is slowing down and is expected to stall and perhaps wander around just off shore on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

And now, many more people, houses and buildings are set to endure hurricane-force winds, which extend 80 miles out from the center of Florence.

Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the USA southeast. The image was captured by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, now living and working onboard the International Space Station.

Hurricane Helene, Subtropical Storm Joyce and the potential disturbance are not expected to affect land in the next five days, if at all. Winds will continue to pick up through Thursday afternoon and evening.

"There is some damage ... but it is still standing strong".

Still, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding. I'm glad we both came to the decision ourselves. "So since we can't find anything within our means ... we've opted to stay". "It's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen, and tremendous amounts of water". It's a kind gesture but doesn't alleviate Browning's fear.

"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said on Thursday. "But I think it'll be OK".

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