Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 2, still considered risky

The Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence

The Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence, heading for the Carolinas, "will likely be the storm of a lifetime" for areas of the coast, according to the National Weather Service early Wednesday.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina, with 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, officials left almost 4,500 prisoners inside facilities during Hurricane Irma in 2017, even though multiple prison facilities in that county were demolished by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The storm was heading for the coast of North and SC but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

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The Miami-based NHC stressed, however, that while a slow weakening is expected over the next 24 hours "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the United States coast late Thursday and Friday".

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Jeff Byard, an administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said: "Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?"

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. Ahead of what is projected to be massive devastation for several Southeast states, NASA has released high-definition footage of the storm as viewed from the International Space Station above the Atlantic Ocean.

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Manure lagoons are about as pleasant as they sound-vast open-air ponds of manure located next to the many hog farms near the North Carolina coast.

Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds, churned ever closer to the US East Coast on Wednesday as evacuations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the threat of deadly high seas and calamitous floods.

Its governor, Roy Cooper, told residents "the time to prepare was nearly over".

"Residents in the path of these devastating storms should comply with all evacuation orders and other emergency instructions". That leaves the "spinning wheel" at the hurricane's core stranded, "and it'll just sit there until the weather pattern changes", he said. Officials are warning that the hurricane could become a multiday event as it slows down before making landfall.

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