Weakening winds from Hurricane Florence approach the Carolinas

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Regardless of the exact path, Florence will be a large system, and impacts such as heavy rain and strong winds will extend well beyond the center and at least into southeast SC.

When the center of Florence gets near the coast or just across the North Carolina coastline, it will turn to the left and head toward SC.

As of 5 a.m. EDT it was centered about 205 miles (325 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 250 miles (450 kilometers) east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

A slow westward to west-southwestward motion is expected Friday night and Saturday. It was moving 10 miles per hour toward the Port City, the advisory said.

Rain is expected to begin in Charlotte late Friday evening and into Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

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US weather officials said Florence weakened to a Category 2 storm, but the storm, according to NASA in a blog post on September 12, is still more than 400 miles in diameter.

"Little change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland", the briefing said.

"We are completely ready for hurricane Florence, as the storm gets even larger and more powerful". The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. "We have an old jail building and there was a sally-port where vehicles could drive down into it and it's basically a big hole and water did go into that hole but we are safe in this facility".

And there's still the problem of deadly storm surge.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are warning signs of the days to come", Cooper said of the initial impacts. The eyewall of the storm is spinning on the coast near Topsail Island, but the National Hurricane Center has not confirmed that center of the eye has made landfall.

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The water has the potential to reach the following heights above ground...

"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves".

Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in the following areas...

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and at least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

As of 4 a.m., Florence was 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Just as Hurricane Florence closes in on the Southeast, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled - meaning far more people will get blasted with winds 74 miles per hour or greater.

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At the North Carolina Zoo, workers this week were trying to figure out what to do with 1,600 animals. "Now it's just taking the brunt of the storm". Rip Currents: High risk for rip currents at all beaches today and likely into this weekend.

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