Hurricane Florence makes landfall, set to inundate Carolinas

ISS images show massive Hurricane Florence from 400 km up

Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 6 mph (9 kph) and still drawing energy from the ocean.

With more than 1,500 commercial airline flights in and out of the Carolinas canceled - and potentially many more to come - even the skies above sat empty, except for Florence's foreboding cloud cover and rapidly strengthening rain. Hurricane force winds extended 80 miles from the centre of the storm, while tropical storm force winds extended up to 195 miles.

Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days.

"This is a life-threatening situation".

The rising sea crept toward the two-story home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro.

Waves of almost 30 feet high were recorded off the coastline. "Trees are blowing down in the wind".

In Wilmington, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified, causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker.

It added that the maximum sustained winds were 90 miles per hour. It's now pummeling the coast of North Carolina with 90mph winds and heavy rain, the CNN reported Friday. Florence is expected to arrive in southeast North Carolina on Friday morning before drifting south into SC.

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150: The number of people requesting rescue in flooded New Bern, North Carolina, where water levels reached 10 feet overnight.

"We have 2 out-of-state FEMA teams here for swift water rescue", the city tweeted.

Further south, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, more than 60 people were evacuated from a hotel after police received a 911 call just before 1am, the city's public safety department said in a statement.

"This threat will continue into next week", said Jeff Stern, Virginia's state coordinator of emergency management, during a Thursday evening news conference. An additional 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

Just before 5am ET (10am BST) the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the eye of the storm was about to make landfall in North Carolina as hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Forecasters predict as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina and storm surges as high as 4 meters - taller than many houses. Although the storm was downgraded to Category 1 before landfall, it still brought a risky risk of strong winds and hazardous flooding.

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