Hurricane Florence's sustained wind speeds have lessened slightly to 105 miles per hour, but the storm is already bringing surges and tropical storm winds to the North Carolina shore, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. briefing.
A high definition camera outside the International Space Station captured a NASA view of Hurricane Florence on September 12, 2018.
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the coast Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
The police chief of Wrightsville Beach, vulnerable on a North Carolina barrier island, agreed that those who refused to leave were now on their own.
"We'll operate without power; we have candles". "The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline".
She said: "It's not the middle of a hurricane yet, so why not come for a beer?"
Elsewhere in Wilmington, Linda Smith, a 67-year-old retired nonprofit director, was concerned as she watched wind gusts stir up frothy white caps on the Cape Fear River.
"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director. "I am frightened about what's coming. We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Keith Acre of North Carolina's Department of Emergency Management said: "This has been a really large evacuation and sheltering operation, probably the largest we've done, so that has not been an east lift".
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He warned residents to be prepared for mass power outages that could last for days or weeks, echoing the sentiments shared by Duke Energy on Wednesday. Its forward movement slowed to 10 miles per hour (17 kph) and top sustained winds dropped slightly to 105 miles per hour (165 kph).
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so in nearly over.
The National Weather Service warned that people should have their hurricane preparations in place Thursday before the storm moves in toward land overnight.
As the southeastern coast braces for the impact of Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 1 storm, those who live further inland should expect to experience treacherous weather conditions as well.
Steering currents - around clear-weather high-pressure systems and stormy low-pressure systems - redirect hurricanes, with the clear-weather systems acting as walls that storms have to go around. We'll invite in our federal partners - Florence, excuse me, ' said, possibly after being corrected.
The Carolinas will bear the brunt of the storm, but as it moves inland, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland will also be hit.
Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power was lost, and there were lines to get in on Thursday evening.
Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.
Instead they drove 150 miles inland to his mum's house in Durham.
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