More than 19,000 without power in U.S. Southeast ahead of Florence

More than 19,000 without power in U.S. Southeast ahead of Florence

More than 19,000 without power in U.S. Southeast ahead of Florence

Fears about Hurricane Florence spread south on Wednesday, with Georgia declaring a state of emergency after officials in the Carolinas urged people to evacuate the coast ahead of the storm's expected pounding winds and rain-driven floods.

Gradually, Friday through the weekend (local time), the massive storm - containing a zone of tropical-storm-force winds almost 643km wide - will drift inland, engulfing much of SC and southern North Carolina. Hurricane Florence was more recently downgraded to a Category 2 storm.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour with winds that have decreased significantly to 100 miles per hour.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

Heavy bands of rain and tropical storm force winds are sweeping across the barrier islands off North Carolina and along the southeastern coast of the state.

"You put your life at risk by staying", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

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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. Rainfalls up to 40 inches (102 centimeters) in some places are expected in a region ranging from coastal North Carolina to northeastern SC, with flash flooding likely, according to the NHC. Practically, however, that won't matter when it comes to storm surge and inland rainfall.

The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.

The Category 2 storm was churning 110 miles southeast of Wilmington with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.

The threat of storm surges loom for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible in the next 36 hours. Parts of North Carolina could get 40 inches (1 meter) of rain. We'll discuss the latest on the storm.

Panovich: Right now it looks like landfall is going to occur sometime early Friday morning between, I would say, 4 a.m. and probably about 8 a.m., but it might actually never make it all the way in.

Another live stream at Wilmington Tower, which usually broadcasts sweeping views of the North Carolina landscape, shows storm clouds rolling in over the ocean.

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Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina.

Mayor Joe Benson said the storm will batter Carolina Beach through two high-tide periods.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount of rainfall", said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, with Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique under a tropical storm warning.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.

He warned residents to be prepared for mass power outages that could last for days or weeks, echoing the sentiments shared by Duke Energy on Wednesday.

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"Two years ago, we made hot dogs and sold PBR out of Bar Normandy", resident Chaz Green said at One Broad, a local restaurant that is now the go-to venue for hurricane parties.

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