Hurricane Florence starts flooding parts of the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence still poses grave threat despite weaker winds

The outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) as the monster storm moved in for an extended stay along the Southeastern coast, promising to drench the properties of 10 million people with enormous amounts of water.

The monster storm - which briefly flirted with category five status on its march across the Atlantic - was located roughly 170 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina as of 8:00 a.m. EDT Thursday.

But the real threat from Florence isn't from wind, it's from water, with the National Hurricane Center warning of "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall".

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday morning.

The hurricane centre's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon (Saturday NZT) around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

A long stretch of the U.S. eastern seaboard remained vulnerable to hurricane and tropical storm conditions, from Georgia north through the Carolinas into Virginia. One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area.

The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday that the storm will "pile up water" along the coast.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority". "But it's moving at a steady clip and baring down on some pretty vulnerable parts of North Carolina". Highway 12 in the Outer Banks and some roads in Southeastern North Carolina have already seen flooding.

About 800 flights in the region have been canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported.

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Into the weekend, as the winds start to slacken at the coast and the surge subsides, the rains are likely to keeping coming. The image was captured by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, now living and working onboard the International Space Station.

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"We expect those numbers to rise significantly over the next 24 hours, as the storm approaches and airlines finalize their operations plans", said Sara Orsi, a spokesperson for FlightAware.

The company is also lifting speed caps restrictions for first responders in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, according to a statement.

Even if Hurricane Florence's category weakens, or if the storm no longer maintains its hurricane status, the amount of rain can still be biblical.

Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Where is Hurricane Florence now? Areas east and south of Charlotte are expected to receive higher totals from Florence.

Residents of the Carolinas and neighboring states should consult local authorities for any evacuation orders and other preparation guidelines. She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level. "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".

Forecasters anxious the storms damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

Just inland in North Carolina, the hurricane is pushing water up the sounds and rivers, Joel Cline, a tropical storm program coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Fox News. It's expected to bring tropical storm conditions and up to 5 inches of rain across the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

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