NASA video shows Hurricane Florence from space as it makes landfall
16 September, 2018, 19:13
Florence crashed into the Carolinas on Friday with 90-mph (144 kph) winds, torrential rains and a powerful storm surge before slowing to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.
Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and unsafe. As of 2 p.m. ET, Florence's sustained winds dropped to 75 miles per hour and it was slowly heading inland after wobbling along the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. "The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland", he said.
Forecasters say it is especially risky after dark because people trying to escape may not realize how deep flood water is on roads.
New Bern resident George Zaytoun chose not to evacuate and is trapped inside his home.
By Friday morning, the North Carolina coastal town of Atlantic Beach had already received 30in (76cm) of rain, the US Geological Service said. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
The North Carolina State Emergency Response Team also attributed a husband and wife's deaths to the storm.
The centre of the storm made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, with gales of up to 90mph (150 km/h).
Tornadoes are also possible in the eastern North Carolina area according to the NHC, as wind and rain impact land.
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that whole communities "could be wiped away". "Catastrophic effects will be felt".
The NHC said Hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles (130 kms) from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles (315 kms) out.
The WXCHARTS map shows the deadly eye of the hurricane moving across North Carolina with wind gusts reaching 131km per hour until subsiding to 80km per hour on Sunday.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous agreed, telling ABC News' David Muir, "I see a biblical proportion flood event that's going to occur".
Some people were arrested for breaking into cars as Hurricane Florence approached North Carolina Thursday night, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram told ABC Wilmington affiliate WWAY-TV.
The storm is expected to track across SC over the weekend.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
CNN reported that more than 620,000 customers did not have power in the Carolinas by Friday morning, and by the afternoon Duke Energy announced that it expected as many as 3 million outages, which could take weeks to restore.