In the Triangle: Tornado watches, flood warnings as Florence makes landfall

In the Triangle: Tornado watches, flood warnings as Florence makes landfall

Forecasts show those currents giving Florence no sense of direction in a day or so.

Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast.

The powerful storm already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...6 to 12 inches, isolated 15 inches.

At 11 p.m., the center of the Category 2 hurricane was about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Tropical-Storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles from the center.

"The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC in the hurricane warning area tonight and Friday, " the hurricane center said.

The hurricane center's best guess was that Florence's eye would blow ashore as early as Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

Storm Surge Inundation: Up to 2 to 4 feet of inundation is possible in portions of the Storm Surge Watch area Friday into Saturday.

The result: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

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There is little doubt that Hurricane Florence will be a significant storm as it approaches the coast the the Carolinas and Georgia.

Michele Johnson said she's anxious about her husband, but "I think he's OK with me going, so I don't stress him out more".

Hurricane Florence made landfall in Wilmington Friday morning as a Category 1 storm.

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Her neighbors gave her the key to their house, which is two stories and might be safer from flooding, she said. Airlines cancelled almost 1000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1100 trucks. High Surf Advisory for all beaches today. North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light and Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again", he said. Add Hurricane Florence as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Florence news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometres) off shore versus heading inland immediately. "While we can't attribute this hurricane exclusively to climate change, we do expect these types of intense hurricanes to happen more often as the world warms".

With their entire neighbourhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle. "Until we can't. See what happens". Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.

Forecasters say it could slow dramatically when it nears land and then linger until Saturday, moving unpredictably along the coast and bringing torrential rain.

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