Hurricane Florence Rocks Wooden Pier in Nags Head

Jacob Harrelson and his wife Beth Harrelson install protective plywood on a local business in anticipation of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Wednesday

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

Hurricane Florence has just about reached the cost of the Carolinas, set to bring heavy rain and damaging winds to the area tomorrow and through the weekend.

The NHC said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state.

Hurricane Florence brought a storm surge of some 3 meters (10 feet) as it began battering the USA east coast early on Friday.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland.

FEMA officials wrote on Twitter people should not focus on the category of the storm - as of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 2 storm, indicating slower wind speeds - but rather should pay attention to the fact there will be extreme flooding in the Carolinas as a result. Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to approach the Lesser Antilles Islands on Thursday.

According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the USA mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians".

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Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 metres) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 metres) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Calls for help from people trapped in their cars, in their attics and on rooftops are already coming in as Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina early Friday.

According to the Weather Channel, almost 300,000 people are already without power across the state. Duke Energy, a local power company, estimated that up to three million customers could lose their supply as a result of Florence.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

The Pentagon has dispatched two ships and a Marine unit offshore to provide help if needed.

Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by.

So, in case you're wondering how a neighbourhood hit by the hurricane could be impacted, check out this brilliant example of the augmented reality that has left people spellbound.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who chose to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information. "We're able", he said. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready". Significant weakening is expected over the weekend. But residents inland are warned to expect life-threatening floods and should plan to be without power for days.

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