Hurricane Florence to deliver 'life-threatening' surges and rain despite downgrade

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Florence, now a Category 2 hurricane, is forecast to unleash extreme storm surge, possibly historic flooding rains, and damaging winds in the Carolinas beginning Thursday. "A NOAA buoy located about 80 miles (130 km) south of the center of Florence has recently reported sustained winds of 52 km (83 km/h) with a gust to 64 mph (104 km/h)". And the more it hovers just off shore - a distinct possibility - the more potentially deadly storm surge it pushes on-shore. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland will also be in peril.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and dump 0.3 to 0.6 meters of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

The centre of Florence, a Category 2 hurricane, will approach the coasts of North and SC today, the NHC said, adding that it was expected to weaken after it moved inland.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation?

A National Weather Service forecaster has said it will be the "storm of a lifetime" for parts of the Carolina coast.

About 1.7 million people have already been told to leave their homes in the latter three states, but some who thought they were safely out of the path of the storm are now desperately working to board up their homes and businesses before its arrival.

Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the U.S., said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas.

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WCNC-TV meteorologist Brad Panovich told WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry that the shift of Florence means more rain for the Charlotte area.

In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florences path largely missing the state.

"All interests from SC into the Mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials", the Hurricane Center said. It is expected to make landfall Thursday morning. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies.

TRACKING FLORENCE: Stay with The Weather Network online and on T.V. for our exclusive coverage of the storm.

Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations.

"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew", the organization said in a statement that was circulated on Twitter.

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