Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 105 miles per hour (165 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.
Adding to concerns, forecasters warned the larger and slow-moving storm could linger for days around the coast, leaving many without power and supplies.
"This storm is a monster".
"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years", said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy's incident commander, in a news release.
Watching the scene unfold from space, German Alexander Gerst, an astronaut on board the ISS, tweeted photos of the enormous storm.
Florence dipped to Category 2 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour on Wednesday evening. "But we still bought the meals we were going to have and requested that the hotel serve those meals to the people who have been relocated, on us". We are ready for the big one that is coming!'
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.
"It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
Residents along the south-eastern coast of the USA have been boarding up their properties, stockpiling supplies and some have left their homes as the Category 2 storm heads toward land.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Byard said, warning of power outages, road closures, infrastructure damage and potential loss of life. The power company has warned that up to 3 million people could be left without power for an extended period of time following Hurricane Florence.
Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.
"This will have a storm surge in the 20-foot range", Myers said.
"There's 25% more people living between Charleston (South Carolina) and Morehead City (North Carolina) than there were when Hugo was making landfall", Myers said.
President Trump spoke with the senators of North Carolina and SC, telling them they have the full support of the federal government and the feds will be there to help with anything their states may need.
Hunt also said the meals the Colgate players and staff were supposed to have on the plane won't go to waste, either. "There's nobody left to work".
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said. "The building's solid and Buddha will protect us". "Because it's Mother Nature".
In a trailer park outside Wilmington, Alondra Espinoza was preparing to leave with her two young children. "I want to get them as far away as possible".
"Many of the people here have never seen a storm this strong". "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have minded staying here".
Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.
Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 225km/h earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2. Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land, the NHC said, while Isaac could bring heavy rain to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.
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