Hurricane Florence deluges Carolinas ahead of landfall

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Hurricane Florence, once rumored to strike as a Category-5 storm, will strike with less powerful wind, but it will drop much more rain on the area than initially expected.

Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence swamped the Carolinas early on Friday as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.

More than 100,000 homes are already without power as weather conditions begin to worsen.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out.

There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.

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Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. "We have days more to go".

The storm's outer bands have reached the Wilmington region, prompting flooding in coastal communities from the hurricane's high storm surges, which forecasters said would be up to 13 feet high.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump said on Twitter.

"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.

The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.

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The National Weather Service forecasts minor to major flooding along rivers anywhere from the Carolinas to Maryland in the coming days.

"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

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. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place".

Hurricane Florence has slowed as it approaches Wilmington, now marching at 5 miles per hour as it continues to aim its center at Wilmington, according to a 5 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.

"If we need to re-examine the evacuation, that will be something that we will be looking at between now and tomorrow morning", he said.

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