Astronauts on International Space Station showcase power of Hurricane Florence in photos

Astronauts on International Space Station showcase power of Hurricane Florence in photos

Astronauts on International Space Station showcase power of Hurricane Florence in photos

The National Weather Service has issued strong warnings to residents of the Carolinas and other mid-Atlantic states, saying the hurricane would be the "storm of a lifetime", bringing damaging winds, life-threatening storm surges, and "catastrophic flooding".

The hurricane center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Thursday night before finally blowing ashore.

Florence's winds in the afternoon were down slightly to 125 miles per hour (205 kph), from a high of 140 miles per hour, and the Category 4 storm fell to a Category 3.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", he warned. "Finally, I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence".

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Florence, a powerful Category 4 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday but heavy rainfall is expected to hit Georgia to the south.

"Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km)". North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

"The time to prepare is nearly over", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper at a Wednesday morning news conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter warned of the storm's dangers and praised his administration's handling of past hurricanes, rejecting criticism for its response to Hurricane Maria a year ago in Puerto Rico.

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"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. "We are ready for the big one that is coming!"

The last hurricane rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people.

At the White House, President Donald Trump both touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way of Florence.

Crews also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain".

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Michelle Stober loaded up valuables at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.

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