4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas

4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas

4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas

On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds (193 km).

Pablo Santos, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told VOA that when the center of Florence comes ashore and shifts north as expected, it will still be "catastrophic" due tin a large extent to the storm surge.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

But the hurricane's sheer size meant it could batter the US East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day, according to weather forecasters.

The 3D footage released by the Weather Channel shows conditions in a surge of 3 to 9 feet of floodwaters, which the unsafe storm has threatened to bring. On Thursday evening it was packing peak winds of 150 km/h.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said it is monitoring two North Carolina dams - in Wake Forest and Cary - as well as three additional ones in Virginia. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

The storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a probable Friday landfall.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified, causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker. "Unfortunately, sweet potatoes and peanuts are just getting underway with harvests, and I'll remind you that we're number one in the nation in sweet potatoes". We've got things boarded up.

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".

As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

"We expect the eye of Hurricane Florence to reach the coast near Wilmington, North Carolina, early Friday morning", according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

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She said the momentum the storm has generated on its long trip across the Atlantic won't go away just "because the winds decrease a couple miles an hour".

The National Weather Service said as much as 18cm of rain had fallen overnight in some coastal areas. Isolated tornadoes may also be included in the wide-range of impacts the storm will have.

"Gradual weakening is forecast while Florence moves farther inland during the next couple of days, and it is expected to weaken to a tropical depression" by Saturday night, the center said in a bulletin.

More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities, though most of the city was without power and thousands of buildings had been damaged, said Roberts on Friday. But officials warned that Florence still remained life-threatening, and a state of emergency was declared ahead of the storm making landfall in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia.

Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers in the Carolinas, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages.

"This is a very risky storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.

Officials have said they are taking precautions to protect sensitive sites.

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine - $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

Another local, Mike White, said: "We have two generators, plenty of gasoline, everything's filled up". "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine".

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