More than 150,000 people without power from Hurricane Florence

NASA Hurricane Florence

Life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds are occurring along the North Carolina coast, with the threat of freshwater flooding seen increasing over the next several days, it added.

"While we expect an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 40 inches of rain, extensive inland flooding and storm surge flooding from Florence, Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 60 inches of rain locally centered around the United States' fourth largest city, Houston, which has a population of 2.3 million", AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers said.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.

With Hurricane Florence downgraded on Thursday from a Category Four to a Category Two storm, and then once again, around fifty people left the evacuation shelter in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

"With the extreme storm surge along the coast, rivers will start to overflow".

Helene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday.

The storm is expected to bring storm surges of up to 13 feet in parts of North Carolina and catastrophic flooding in other parts of the state and northeastern SC. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

Florence is battering the North Carolina coast - flooding beach town roads from the Outer Banks to Carolina Beach.

One person died at the West Brunswick High School shelter Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson for Brunswick County.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. "But can't replace us, so we made a decision to come here", said the 39-year-old.

Florence's centre was about 40km east of Wilmington, North Carolina at 4am on Friday and moving west at 10km/h, the NHC said.

U.S. Southeast power companies said more than 98,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, Virginia and SC were without power on Thursday as Hurricane Florence approached the coast.

"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing North Carolina would see the equivalent of up to eight months of rain in a two- to three-day period.

The rainfall will cause catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding, the NHC said. More than 20 inches of rain are likely to fall in some areas near the coastline and between 10 and 15 inches are projected to fall as far inland as Fayetteville, which sits about 100 miles from the coast.

More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia declared emergencies to help speed up government aid efforts.

Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers in the Carolinas, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages.

Schleifstein's warning follows various reports of residents refusing to evacuate as the storm approaches.

Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.

"I've got everybody from nuclear scientists to doctors to search and rescue specialists to sheltering specialists to politicians right here in the [Emergency Operations Center]", Sprayberry says. A fourth person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator, the governor's office said.

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