Tracking Florence as tropical storm besieges Carolinas

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

These rains are expected to produce "prolonged, significant river flooding".

There were 974,000 homes in the Carolinas without power on Saturday morning.

Florence's intensity has diminished since roaring ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane.

Florence made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, even as it continued to wreak havoc along the East Coast, downing trees and power lines and forcing 20,000 people to flee to shelters.

"Florence slowly weakening just inland over eastern SC but causing catastrophic flooding over North and SC", the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Saturday morning, after downgrading it from a hurricane to a tropical storm the previous day.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15am (local time) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 150kph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.

It's moving very slowly, at about 2mph (3.2km/h).

The massive system weakened into a tropical storm in the late afternoon but across the region, emergency officials warned that more water was yet to come, with cresting rivers and flash flooding fed by the unending rain.

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Wright is far from the only resident in the Carolinas that chose to weather Hurricane Florence, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, though many who chose to stay are starting to reconsider their decision of sticking around for what North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called a "1,000-year event". Wilmington, North Carolina saw a wind gust of 105 miles per hour, its highest in 60 years.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

More than 20,000 people were in 157 shelters in North Carolina, with 7,000 more in SC shelters.

Florence is forecast to "drop nearly double" the volume of rain over the state compared to Floyd, tweeted Ryan Maue, meteorologist for weathermodels.com.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

The deadly storm made landfall on the east coast of the United States on Friday bringing with it "biblical" flooding on what's been described as a "thousand-year rain event".

"If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter. Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water, while many of their neighbors awaited help. Water rescues were also underway, although it was hard to know how many had occurred. "These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", city public information officer Colleen Roberts said.

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington. I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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