Hundreds more flights canceled as Florence nears the Carolina coastal area

Hurricane Florence North Carolina map

Florence weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm on a five-step scale but had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour) as of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), down from 130 mph earlier in the day. Another 8 million people live in areas covered by hurricane and tropical storm warnings. The center of the storm is expected to make landfall near Wilmington between 8 a.m. and noon.

But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm overnight.

'Florence, excuse me, ' he added later.

Visualizations developed by Global News showed just how many there were around the globe as of September 13.

He said the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of the state-activated National Guard troops. Storm surge of 13 feet on top of a high tide at 7 feet could overwhelm the town.

"It's all going to be predicated on where the damage is at, in terms of how and where we deploy our resources", said Penn.

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

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Hurricane Florence continues to snarl travel in the Southeast as it closes in on the Carolinas, affecting more than a dozen transportation hubs there and in other parts of the region.

The NHC categorises hurricanes of category three and above as major storms. People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm. That puts it at the upper range of Category 2 storms, which have winds from 96 to 110 miles per hour.

That said, the storm is still expected to stall once it hits the Wilmington coast, with weather officials early Thursday raising the expected total rainfall for Wilmington to 35 inches - weather officials had predicted 30 inches for Wilmington in briefings released Wednesday. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding.

General O'Shaughnessy said there were about 7,000 U.S. military personnel now in place and ready to respond to the storm, along with ships, helicopters, high-wheeled vehicles and other equipment.

Susan Faulkenberry Panousis has stayed in her Bald Head Island, North Carolina home during prior hurricanes, but not this time.

That is, of course, if Florence stays on its current path and hits North Carolina. Will the winds be that strong or they'll be stronger when they get here than that?

"Our sand dunes are healthy, but they're not going to be able to keep back a wall of water like that", he said.

Inmates at the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County and the Berkeley County Detention Center will not be moved elsewhere, according to Buzzfeed News.

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