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Coastal residents wait, watch as Florence's fury begins

Coastal residents wait, watch as Florence's fury begins

The first effects of the now Category 1 Hurricane Florence are already being felt in the Carolinas, where the storm is expected to make landfall later today, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane Florence has weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm, but don't be fooled, it's still incredibly risky.

"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years", said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy's incident commander.

Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Florence, the Category 2 storm heading straight for my parents' SC house, has the country on high alert.

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.

The National Weather Service forecasts sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s this weekend, with the exception of lakefront areas, which are predicted to reach the high 70s.

Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty.

"You're going to have damaging winds for a longer period of time", senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said in an update from the NHC. "And that will produce a lot of damage as well as prolong the beach erosion".

This morning, the radar loop out of Morehead North Carolina is beginning to show those fans of heavy rain closing in on the coast. Then it dropped to an extratropical cyclone - but with hurricane-force winds akin to a low Category 1 hurricane - before making landfall in New Jersey.

But between evacuations and storm shutter installations, NASA and NOAA are keeping people informed and entertained.

The wave action and strong winds of Florence will cause a large amount of water to pile up along the coast of North and SC. Practically, however, that won't matter when it comes to storm surge and inland rainfall.

Some 11,000 power outages have been reported in North Carolina. With the storm expected to "stick" on the high-pressure ridge, moving north, west, or northwest seems to be safest.

Another video from NOAA's GOES-East weather satellite caught a different view of Hurricane Florence.

Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Forecasters have warned of life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic flooding, damaging winds, and risky rip currents along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster did not mince words on Thursday, delivering a dire message mainly to those coastal residents who have chosen to remain in their homes despite repeated warnings to leave as Hurricane Florence creeps toward the coast.

The latest rainfall projections warn of 20 to 40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said. At the same time, some areas can see up to 15 inches of rain, with a few places experiencing up to 30 inches.

The Category 2 storm is set to hit the U.S. East Coast with winds of up to 215 km/h.

Still, there are several other North and SC airports in the storm's path.

By 6 p.m., southeast coastal communities could experience winds of 48 miles per hour. That puts it at the upper range of Category 2 storms, which have winds from 96 to 110 miles per hour.

Heavy and excessive rainfall is tipped to be life-threatening, as it will trigger both flash flooding and cause rivers to burst their banks.

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