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The centre of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday. Tens of thousands were without power. Heavy rainfall began after dark. "We might leave", she said. If anything, we are more than likely going to have a power outage. Most other beachgoers were long gone. "Have some pity on us because if you stay here and you have a problem and we have to get out in it, there's a chance that we won't because we can't".

Tropical storm-force winds will move into the Pee Dee and eastern Midlands on Friday, with strong winds expected in the central Midlands late Friday and western Midlands early Saturday, the Weather Service said.

The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater.

Almost 2 million coastal residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders, although it remains unclear how many have actually done so. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

The latest weather warning comes with increased focus on the threat of storm surges as the Catgeory 1 hurricane makes impact with the United States coast. Hurricane Florence is forecast to make landfall tomorrow.

Holly Waters, a retired special education teacher from Wilmington, said she was happy to have a place to go to relax before the storm worsened.

Colgate, a Patriot League program from NY, had hotel rooms and meal plans locked down for the trip to Greenville, South Carolina.

About midday on Thursday (local time), Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Some of the few people still left in Nags Head on the Outer Banks took photos of angry waves topped with white froth.

Her neighbors gave her the key to their house, which is two stories and might be safer from flooding, she said. "Because it's Mother Nature".

Forecasters' European climate model is predicting two trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com.

Hurricane Florence was still 145 miles off the North Carolina coast on Thursday morning, September 13, but winds from the storm were already kicking up strong waves along the Outer Banks.

Constable is 20-weeks-pregnant and is unable to evacuate because of her job at a nursing home.

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Reaction to the hurricane explainer has been overwhelmingly positive, said Michael Potts, Weather Channel's vice president of design. "Whether you have a house or not, when the storm comes it will bring everyone together".

When a college football game was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, one of the team's decided to make the best out of the situation.

Hunt said the team is disappointed to have a game off the schedule, but knows, in the grander scheme of things, that safety is far more important than a football game. Most of the flights leaving Charlotte are completely booked because Thursday, if not Friday, is the last chance to get out before Florence unleashes its fury on the region. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.

The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is a complex one.

Storm surge is deadly.

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet".

"I was feeling fine until I woke up this morning and this is a ghost town", said Kristin Beard, a 40-year-old Myrtle Beach marketer.

Why isn't the downgraded storm less of a threat?

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.

Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida a year ago, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks.