Florence's rain bands lash Carolinas — WHAT'S HAPPENING

Hurricane Florence seen here early Thursday morning was downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm

"Additionally, Florence's projected toll is less than Hurricane Sandy's toll of $69 billion and Katrina's cost of $161 billion", Myers said. That's because the longer this slow-moving hurricane hovers over land, the more rain it'll dump in the same places.

The "threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days" in the impacted areas.

While it is extremely likely that the eastern Carolinas will be hardest hit by the storm Thursday into Friday (local time), the storm's direction becomes far less certain over the weekend and next week.

Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall are expected.

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon. "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".

From the first rains now creeping on the coast to the outer bands, #Florence is now over 600 miles wide. But it could have been worse: Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways. The forward speed of Florence has dropped from 17 miles per hour on Wednesday to 12 miles per hour on Thursday.

"There is going to be a lot of rain".

"It's cumulative damage", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. Parts of the Carolinas could see 50 cm to 76 cm, with isolated areas getting 101 cm, over seven days along the coast.

Cooper also announced there are 2,800 National Guard troops in different staging areas of North Carolina. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in Virginia and the Carolinas.

This same zone will be hammered by winds gusting up to hurricane force for almost a day while tropical-storm conditions could linger twice that long. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Millions were expected to lose power, perhaps for weeks.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

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As of 8am ET on Thursday, Florence was driving maximum sustained winds of 110mph (177km/h), according to an updated forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

Doesn't sound like a weak hurricane, does it?

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. A storm surge warning is in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina.

The full impact of the storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.

Still, the storm has the capacity for huge destruction.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm. When Hurricane Floyd made landfall near Cape Fear in 1999 as a Category 2 storm, bloated carcasses of hundreds of thousands of hogs, chickens and other drowned livestock bobbed in a nose-stinging soup of fecal matter, pesticides, fertilizer and gasoline so toxic that fish flopped helplessly to escape it.

Torrential rains brought about significant flooding in some areas, with the rains expected to continue over Oahu through Thursday.

The National Weather Service calls it a "storm of a lifetime" - and for good reason.

Trump tweeted yesterday: 'We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida, and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan.

The latest rainfall projections warn of 20-40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said. Tropical storm-force winds are predicted to arrive by late Thursday morning or early afternoon. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight". So the land can't absorb much more water. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.

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