Hurricane Florence deluges the Carolinas

A high definition camera outside the International Space Station captured a NASA view of Hurricane Florence

A high definition camera outside the International Space Station captured a NASA view of Hurricane Florence

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

As Hurricane Florence begins to hammer the Carolinas, a few fliers managed to escape the storms path, arriving at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Thursday just before the hurricane is predicted to made landfall.

Much of the North Carolina Outer Banks and mainland areas adjacent to Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound and Onslow Bay, North Carolina, will be especially hit hard by storm surge, high winds and torrential rain.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Florence to a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour expected.

"Don't relax. Don't get complacent", said Gov. Roy Cooper. York County crews have been trimming trees in an effort to reduce the number of limbs that could fall on power lines during the storm. "Today the threat becomes a reality", according to The Associated Press. The storm, they warned for the final time, was not to be played with.

The National Hurricane Center says the greatest storm surge inundation will probably be between Cape Fear and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

"We've seen fatalities and deaths from tropical storms, from Category 1 storms and from Category 2 storms", SCEMD's Becker said.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a crawl - sometimes it was moving no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

The NHC went on to say that a few tornadoes could form in eastern and southeastern North Carolina into Friday.

By early evening, almost 70,000 residents were without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

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The rest of SC and North Carolina into southwestern Virginia will experience 5 to 10 inches, with isolated totals up to 15 inches. In addition, the center said tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina Saturday.

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Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. If it is bowl-shaped, like in Georgia and SC, the surge is deeper, but when it is the opposite shape, like the Outer Banks, it's less so, Needham said.

"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said.

"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Some areas also saw the first of the hurricane-force winds.

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.

The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is a complex one.

Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's (560 km) slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. Airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

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