In the Triangle: Tornado watches, flood warnings as Florence makes landfall

Such a slow, meandering trajectory could create devastating storm surges and flooding from Georgetown S.C. all the way to the North Carolina-Virginia border. And that's just the prelude to untold days of misery.

On one level, prayers have been answered as the storm's wind speeds have decreased from catastrophic Category 4 winds of 140 miles per hour down to Category 2 winds of 105 miles per hour.

Also, more than 30 Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company trucks with 72 crew members left Oklahoma City on Tuesday to head to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be ready to respond to any damage from Florence, according to an OG&E news release.

Hurricane Florence weakened somewhat early Thursday, but weather officials cautioned that the storm will still bring life-threatening conditions.

A large tropical system, hurricane-force winds extend outward from Florence's center of circulation for eighty miles.

By the time it leaves, it's expected to have unloaded 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue said. That's enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

Hurricane Florence, with tropical storm-force winds hundreds of miles wide, began pounding the Carolina coastline on Thursday night as officials made last-minute pleas for residents to evacuate.

"It's cumulative damage", Myers said.

With South Carolinas beach towns now more in the bulls-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. So will the trees. "Once the storm moves further inland to Atlanta and Charlotte, the biggest issue will be rain and thunderstorms", she said.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., wrote Tuesday, "and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew".

Leaders of the states in the path of the storm have warned people all week to evacuate the most susceptible areas.

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"We know that this is an extremely unsafe situation", Cooper told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.

Into the weekend, as the winds start to slacken at the coast and the surge subsides, the rains are likely to keeping coming.

Remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper said. They also instituted a 24-hour curfew.

Myrtle Beach's courses accounted for half of the $2.7 billion in economic output that golf generated for the SC economy in 2015, according to a report from the state's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The water can reach up to 9 feet in some areas during high tide.

"There's no backing down on the magnitude of this storm in relation to where it's going to hit", Bastardi said. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed".

Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina. She packed up what she could and took a ferry. "If you are heading out, be careful", said WRAL Brian Shrader.

Incredible amounts of water will fall from the sky over the next several days in the Carolinas.

The image was captured by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, now living and working onboard the International Space Station.

Also, a new named storm - Subtropical Storm Joyce - popped up on Wednesday just north of Florence.

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