Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 2; still a risky storm

Tropics Update Four named storms in the Atlantic

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered as many as one million residents of the state's eastern coast to leave their homes ahead of the storm's predicted arrival today.

Duke Energy has around 4 million customers in North and SC, and says it could take several weeks to restore the electricity.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

"This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time - not days but weeks", Fountain said on a call with reporters, according to Bloomberg.

Hurricane florence is the most powerful storm to emerge from the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

Winds will be at least 100 miles per hour as the storm approaches the coast.

"In the life of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

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Susan Faulkenberry Panousis has stayed in her Bald Head Island, North Carolina home during prior hurricanes, but not this time. People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm.

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"As we have been predicting, this hurricane is unpredictable", McMaster said at a news briefing updating the state's response to Florence on Wednesday.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

Emergency preparations in the area included activating 2,800 National Guard troops in North Carolina, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so that major roads led away from shore and securing 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region.

"But I'm staying", she said.

In a trailer park outside Wilmington, Alondra Espinoza was preparing to leave with her two young children. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

The Ridgeland Fire Department urges residents in areas that typically flood to leave for higher ground.

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