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14 September 2018, 12:01 | Justin Tyler
Florence has weakened a bit over the past 24 hours, but it has also grown larger and will likely dump torrential rain over North and SC through Monday.
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. Florence is now a strong Category 2 storm. According to forecasters, the center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday.
A hurricane's numerical classification tends to dominate the headlines, but it tells only part of the story - it rates a storm's wind speeds - and not necessarily the most life-threatening part. He added later, "Most of the fatalities in these tropical systems is water".
The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.
Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days.
Even though the storm's category fell from a 4 to a 2 Wednesday (local time), forecasters stressed the category is only an evaluation of the storm's peak winds in a very narrow core near the center of the storm.
"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said. And that will produce a lot of damage as well as prolong the beach erosion". Catastrophic river flooding and flash flooding will occur for a large portion of eastern North and SC. The warning also includes Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, large bodies of water in North Carolina that could see significant flooding.
The primary example of this is 2012's Hurricane Sandy, which had modest 80mph winds by the time it reached the NY and New Jersey areas. Thousands of Marines and their families evacuated from Camp Lejeune, leaving the rest to dig in ahead of what could be a direct hit. Officials are urging others in its path to follow suit, or prepare for the worst.
In the midst of what's being called a "monster storm", some USA residents are welcoming Hurricane Florence with parties.
Outside this zone of destructive winds, damaging winds are still likely, even some distance inland from the coast, which would lead to minor structural damage, downed trees and widespread power outages.
A spokeswoman said: "Basically Helene is in the Atlantic at the moment and is crossing the Atlantic and is expected to track towards the UK".
See full coverage of Hurricane Florence, here. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia declared emergencies to help speed up government aid efforts.
Hurricane Florence carries a heavy risk of flash floods as it brings up to 13-foot storm surge and a possible 40 inches of rain to the Carolina coast.
The surge will result in "large areas of deep inundation. enhanced by battering waves", the Weather Service said.
Tropical storm winds extend much further out, at 195 miles, which is allowing the coast of North Carolina to begin feeling an impact from Florence. This storm surge can be deadly and then the flooding that will come thereafter with rain being measured in feet instead of inches. Additionally, tornadoes could arise in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday. Its wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land. That puts it at the upper range of Category 2 storms, which have winds from 96 to 110 miles per hour.
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5 photos of Hurricane Florence
The storms path is promising to bring even more devastation than first predicted to the Carolinas and parts of Georgia. Woody White, commissioner for New Hanover County, North Carolina, said: "It's going to be bad".
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