A North Carolina TV station had to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage as floodwaters surrounded the building. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service's Wilmington office are waiting for the National Hurricane Center to confirm the track of the eyeball, which typically has the storm's strongest winds.
Fortunately for House, he says this storm should not be a devastating event for the beach town in terms of loss of life.
As of 1 p.m. ET, the storm's sustained winds dropped to 75 miles per hour as it wobbled west-southwestward near the coast, delaying its expected move inland, the National Hurricane Center said.
It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
This landfall has been a long time coming: The hurricane arrived more than two weeks after the National Hurricane Center issued its first advisory for the storm.
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But, knowing the intensity of Florence's impact on Myrtle Beach, "My friends are worrying me right now", Combs said. The storm is threatening catastrophic flooding while leaving scores in need of rescue from rising waters and hundreds of thousands without power.
Hurricane-force winds extended 130km from its centre, and tropical storm-force winds reached out to 315km.
The top wind gusts were reported in Raleigh are at 39 miles per hour.
5 a.m.: The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows little change to Florence's path or strength.
Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days".
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Atlantic Beach was receiving winds of roughly 65-75 miles per hour as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a Fox News report. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines. The Weather Channel is reporting that tornado warnings were in effect further north for Virginia Beach, Virginia. Florence is expected to arrive in southeast North Carolina on Friday morning before drifting south into SC.
The Hurricane Center forecasts that Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm approached, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.
A warming climate also means that the atmosphere can hold more and more water vapor, fueling hurricanes with even more water that can fall on coastal areas. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.
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