Eyewall of Florence slams Carolinas as Cat-1 hurricane

This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Wednesday

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is now lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane -force winds and a life-threatening storm surge.

Hurricane-force winds began whipping North Carolina as federal emergency management officials warned that the hurricane remained a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.

The hurricane is expected to stall along the coast through Friday, which could result in as much as 30 inches of rain being dumped on both Carolinas before moving over the Appalachian Mountains. "This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center said.

Wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues for airports in the coastal Carolinas, FlightAware's Orsi said.

Invest 95L, which is the National Hurricane Center designation for the system we are watching in the central Gulf of Mexico, may organize into at least a tropical depression before impacting the western Gulf coast from Mexico through Texas to Louisiana by Friday.

Grest (Twitter link), who joined the International Space Station crew back in June, tweeted some awesome and terrifying pictures of Hurricane Florence sprawled over the planet under his feet.

The US Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina. Airlines had cancelled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

"We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever hit our country", said the president.

SC governor Henry McMaster confirmed 300,000 people had evacuated on Wednesday and hundreds of thousands more from the three states have evacuated since then.

Time nearly up: Fierce Hurricane Florence aims at southeast US
Huntington Coast Guard rescue team traveling to North Carolina for support

Adding to the storm stress is uncertainty about where exactly Florence will make landfall, after a shift in its track put more of the Southeast in danger.

So far, it's estimate more than 1.7 million Americans have heeded the warnings about Hurricane Florence.

Where is Hurricane Florence now?

The power company serves about 4 million people in this region, meaning they expect between about 25 and 75 percent of their Carolina customers to be impacted. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird. She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level.

Forecasters anxious the storms damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".

Hurricane Watch remains in effect for Charleston and Berkeley Counties, as well as for Charleston Harbor and the nearshore waters adjacent the Charleston County coast Storm Surge Watch remains in effect from Edisto Beach north to South Santee River and Tidal Berkeley County.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

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