Hurricane Florence seen maintaining strength as it approaches coast: NHC

While the storm may have slowed down slightly, it will still bring life-threatening storm surges, high winds, massive flooding and power cuts as it makes landfall on the coast of North and SC.

"It truly is really about the whole size of the storm", said National Hurricane Center head Ken Graham. Although the storm has weakened to a Category 2, it's still expected to bring some bad weather to the area this weekend.

As Hurricane Florence clobbers the Carolinas, it's forecast to bring rain and some flooding risks to Maryland on Friday and Saturday.

The outer bands of the cyclone drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage it could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday. People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm.

Hurricane-force winds began whipping North Carolina as federal emergency management officials warned that the hurricane remained a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.

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.

In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 90 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), dropping it to the weakest of 5 categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

A Hurricane warning remains in effect from Edisto Beach in SC to South Santee River in Southern California. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm Carolina Beach.

Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.

"Employees and local contractors have inspected equipment, reviewed procedures and assembled staffing plans to ensure around-the-clock support to respond to any potential impacts", the company said in a statement.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said. Storm surge is why many of you have been placed under evacuation and we are asking citizens to please heed a warning. Alexander Gerst/ESA/NASA via AP This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018.

Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".

Her friend Kate is refusing to evacuate as well because of "the idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more".

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

The NHC categorises hurricanes of category three and above as major storms. Millions of people have evacuated to inland communities as the storm churns westward.

Florence is expected to start causing havoc over North and SC today.

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

"We are extremely concerned with the streams and rivers at full capacity", Ringgold said.

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