Hurricane Florence has weakened but it will still be devastating

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow in intensity

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow in intensity President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in the three states

Even if you know nothing about hurricanes, an unavoidable sense of doom and destruction overtakes you when you look at this image of Hurricane Florence as it moves inexorably toward North and SC.

What also makes Florence extremely risky are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.

Hurricane Florence is making its way to the Carolinas, where the storm is expected to hit late Thursday into Friday.

Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

In Hampton Roads, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Poquoson to the Virginia-North Carolina border, including the lower James and York rivers. As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities.

By the time the storm leaves the region, forecasters expect that it will have dumped 50 to 70 centimeters of rain in coastal areas, with some parts possibly being inundated with up to 100 centimeters.

One such tool helping hurricane-watchers keep track of Florence is the appropriately-named Hurricane Tracker app.

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia. Storm surge is why many of you have been placed under evacuation and we are asking citizens to please heed a warning.

Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states.

Because hurricane force winds extend 130 kilometers from the center, people on land will experience sharply deteriorating conditions long before the center reaches the coast. REUTERS/Chris KeanePeople walk past a boarded up building before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of people have already evacuated. "While that rain is still coming down for a couple of days, one to two days later you're going to have stuff coming from North Carolina and things coming in from the Upstate".

"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.

More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency. Flights from Fort Lauderdale to Greer, South Carolina, Richmond and Washington also are on schedule.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's center reaching the coast Friday. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

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