Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas as it nears landfall

Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren of Savannah Ga. crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence Wednesday Sept. 12 2018 on the south beach of Tybee Island Ga. Vanotteren and his friend Bailey Gaddis said the waves have gotten bigger and better every eve

"We can not underestimate this storm".

As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.

Because it has it all, including: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes; favourable wind patterns; higher sea levels that exacerbate storm surge;cloud cover that could encompass multiple states; and an unusual combination of other weather systems that likely will stall Florence when it hits land, allowing it to sit for days and dump huge amounts of rain. Although the storm has weakened to a Category 2, it's still expected to bring some bad weather to the area this weekend.

Now, many more people and houses are set to endure hurricane-force winds, which extend 80 miles out from Florence's center.

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Hurricane #Florence is here.

SC residents facing record floods with Hurricane Florence.

"Don't relax, don't get complacent".

DEVASTATION: Marine One carrying US President Bill Clinton along with North Carolina Governor James Hunt 20 September, 1999, survey the flood damage over Tarboro, North Carolina, which was damaged by high winds and rain from Hurricane Floyd. As serene as the images are, it's hard to imagine what conditions are like in the storm and on the water under it. "Battering winds and relentless rain that'll last for days".

Hurricane-like conditions are expected to arrive in the areas covered by warnings by Thursday night or early Friday.

"We stay out here until it's too rough", he said of the surf spot just south of the pier.

Tens of thousands are without power in North Carolina.

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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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At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). About 1.7 million residents have been urged to flee from parts of North and SC .

"Hurricanes don't move through like typical storm events; they are these massive events with a lot of rainfall, and sometimes they move fairly slowly once they make landfall and drop a lot of rain on communities that may not have infrastructure prepared to handle that", Camp told Fox News. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

A crew of zookeepers, veterinarians, and park rangers will ride out the storm with the animals.

The zoo planned to be closed through Friday. As of 5 a.m., its maximum wind speeds remain at 110 miles per hour as it started to ingest drier air, says FOX 13's meteorologist Tyler Eliasen, however, it also means Florence's wind field has grown larger. Water causes the most deaths during tropical storms and hurricanes, and Florence expected to cause unsafe flooding.

Live from New Bern, #NorthCarolina a very #flooded scene there.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate. Steve Goldstein with NOAA said the Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and Neuse rivers were particular areas of concern.

The Weather Channel's forecast video shows the potential damage such surges could inflict on the southern states.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said driving through floodwaters was a leading cause of death during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate.

Airlines canceled about 1,200 flights and counting, and some airports in the Carolinas virtually shut down. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

Duke has said it could take several weeks to fully restore power in areas that are inaccessible due to flooding. The electricity provider says it began powering down one reactor at the Brunswick plant earlier this morning and would start shutting the second reactor later today. But Florence will still bring gusts that are much more powerful.

But, knowing the intensity of Florence's impact on Myrtle Beach, "My friends are worrying me right now", Combs said. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said. "I've got four cats inside the house".

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