Hurricane Florence: Storm downgraded but threat remains

President Donald Trump said the United States was

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

Florence is now a Category 4 hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale and was forecast to slam into the Carolinas later this week.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water.

At a hardware shop in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, store manager John Johnson said the rush on batteries, torches, plastic tarpaulins and sandbags began late last week.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. More than 26,000 hunkered down in shelters.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the NHC said.

Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. SCDOI canceled a storm readiness expo that was planned for September 15 so it could "devote full attention and manpower to helping citizens prepare and recover from the damage that our state will sustain from this storm", and Farmer said it may be rescheduled and incorporated into a claims village. At the end of 2017 there were 813 insurers writing in SC compared with 735 in 2010, and a few more insurers have been admitted this year, he said.

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners.

Trump, who plans a visit to the region next week, tweeted his "deepest sympathies and warmth" to the families and friends of those who had lost their lives.

In the 5 a.m. ET advisory, Florence was 205 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 110 mph and moving to the northwest at 15 mph.

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"The worst is yet to come", he added.

Myrtle Beach's Ocean Boulevard was practically empty at midday on Wednesday, September 12, as the SC town prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

But the NHC also said tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 195 miles (315 km) from its centre, leaving a swathe of the US eastern seaboard vulnerable, much of it low-lying and stretching from Georgia north through the Carolinas into Virginia.

On Saturday, its streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Byard said, warning of power outages, road closures, infrastructure damage and potential loss of life. Around 20,000 crew members, plus thousands of linemen from as far away as Texas will assist Duke Energy to get the lights back on for folks impacted following the storm, Fowler said.

Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste.

Robert Faircloth is preparing for Hurricane Florence. Floyd produced 24 inches of rain in some parts of the state, while Florence has already dumped about 30 inches in areas around Swansboro.

Maryland is not predicted to receive the brunt of the storm.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI.

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