Watch a livestream of Hurricane Florence bearing down on North Carolina

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

"The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact-and we have that". The Category 4 storm is frightening, and looks even more terrifying in images and videos taken from space by NASA and astronauts on the International Space Station.

Florence weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm on a five-step scale but had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour) as of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), down from 130 mph earlier in the day. However, meteorologists are warning that people in its path are still facing unsafe, life-threatening conditions.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so in nearly over.

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

"Protection of life is the absolute highest priority", he added.

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said.

But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast for days - will bring life-threatening storm surge and torrential rains.

"Little change in strength is expected before the eye of Florence reaches the coast, with slow weakening expected after the center moves inland or meanders near the coast", the advisory said. So the winds here are actually going to be probably 30, maybe 35 miles per hour with some gusts to 40 which normally would not be a big deal but with the heavy rain, that causes trees to come down so we could still see trees and power outages from the much lower wind speeds.

"This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time - not days but weeks", a president of one energy company in North Carolina said on Wednesday.

He added: "This is a very unsafe storm".

Even worse: Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.

Florence's present track takes it inland tomorrow.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said.

Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports. "There's nobody left to work".

Meanwhile, lane reversals on US 501 ended at noon and reversals on I-26 end Thursday night, allowing state police and transportation workers to get to a safe location before the storm hits. "The building's solid and Buddha will protect us".

"What can you do?" she asked. "You can't stop Mother Nature".

In a trailer park outside Wilmington, Alondra Espinoza was preparing to leave with her two young children.

"Everything is packed", Espinoza said. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place". She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have minded staying here". NASA/Handout via REUTERS " Pray for Wilmington" is seen on boarded up windows ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018.

Despite pleas from state and local officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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