PREVIOUS STORY: Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 110 miles per hour winds, is forecast to reach the coastline of the Carolinas early Friday morning with little strengthening expected before landfall.
Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee Island, Ga.
- Hurricane-force winds are moving across portions of the North Carolina coast, and water levels were rising along parts of the coastline.
More than 1.7 million people were warned to evacuate and get out of the way of the "life-threatening" storm's path.
Solange Iliou Thompson, a restaurant owner in the town of Wilmington, North Carolina, made her stance clear.
At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.
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The race at the top is incredibly tight and could certainly be affected by what happens at the Tour Championship in two weeks. He added: "I will obviously accept whatever fine it is and move on and try and add one every year but it's kind of tough".
- Though the storm, once a Category 4, was downgraded Thursday night to a Category 1 from a Category 2, the danger is very real.
The hurricane centre is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 130 km/h before landfall, but with rainfall in the 50 to 75 centimetre range and almost four metres of storm surge. Storm surge warnings, hurricane warnings, and tropical storm warnings are in effect along the coast of the Carolinas.
Again, while the maximum wind speeds have been decreasing, the scope of the wind field has been growing. Smaller enclaves of Gullah, referred to as Geechee in some areas, are scattered along the Southeast coast from North Carolina to Florida.
Florence has prompted massive evacuations.
A National Guardsman directs traffic onto U.S. Highway 501 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast Wednesday. "This is a attractive beach here I can't imagine how it's going to be when we come back", homeowner Sheryl Andrews said.
The new trajectory means the storm will idle at sea for longer, creating even heavier and prolonged rains and storm surges for the Carolinas and possibly northern parts of Georgia.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that "disaster is at the doorstep", and "tens of thousands" of buildings may be flooded. "Play in the water, enjoy the sunshine".
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"That's not necessarily connected to global warming, but that's an indication of what we might see in the future more often", he said.
She continued: "Of course we're anxious". They formed a convoy to an emergency operations center, according to the Jacksonville Daily News. "You feel like you should have already left". "We are going to ride it out, fingers crossed".
But early Thursday, webcams showed folks out and about on Beaufort County's beaches even as Florence continued to threaten the mid-Atlantic coast.
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the southeastern coast of the U.S. Downed power lines have also been reported in the area. One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area.
"It's going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland, '" said Jeff Masters, who is the meteorology director of the private Weather Underground website, AP reported. "It's probably good for our marriage".
The hurricane centre also adjusted its projected track, but kept it north of what most computer models were showing, to provide some continuity with past forecasts. I'm glad we both came to the decision ourselves.
"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometres) off shore versus heading inland immediately.
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