With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-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.
North Carolinians made last-minute preparations and hunkered down to await Florence's arrival. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the centre, and tropical storm effects reach 195 miles, The Independent reported.now less than 100 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, the "meandering" Florence has been described as a "horrific nightmare storm" because meteorologists can not pinpoint where it will strike.
Already, flooding and waters have struck the North Carolina coastal regions. President Trump has declared an emergency in the three states and says the government is "as ready as anybody has ever been". Already, the hurricane has triggered more than 1,000 flight cancellations and the closing of almost a dozen airports in North Carolina and SC. The city said early Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way.
Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps. A city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been plucked to safety. 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.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.
According to the National Weather Service, even though Florence is moving swiftly to the northwest, it is believed that the hurricane will stall and meander near the Carolina coast from Thursday night to Saturday.
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The storm's center was about 170 miles southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a National Hurricane Center briefing.
Florence was downgraded overnight to a category one hurricane - with 90mph (145kmh) winds - but forecasters have warned that conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore in the early hours of Friday morning.
Hurricane Florence is shaping up to be a terrible storm, and it does not look any better when you look at it from space. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington.
As of 4 a.m., Florence was centered about 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
A camera at the Frying Pan Tower located 34 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina has been livestreaming a view of the Atlantic Ocean since May, and is powering through the storm to dutifully record an American flag over the rising waves.
Given the storm's size and slow speed, officials warned that Florence could cause similar large-scale flood damage to that seen in the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago.