A.M. Update: Florence weakens slightly as approaches NC coast

Dangerous’ Hurricane Florence threatens at least 5 million people

Hurricane Florence is making its way quickly to the coast though forecasters expect it to slow on Thursday

The Hurricane Florence has began to unleash fierce rains across the USA southeast.

Beside inundating the coast with wind-driven storm, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center predicts.

Speaking in the Oval Office alongside Trump, FEMA administrator Brock Long said Hurricane Florence may be a "very devastating storm".

- Hurricane Florence remains a Category 2 storm as it makes its approaches to the Carolinas.

American Airlines said it had canceled more than 800 flights from Wednesday through Sunday because of the storm.

Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems now in the Atlantic. It's moving at 15 miles per hour, but as it nears the Carolina coast, it will dramatically slow down.

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The strongest winds will occur where and when the storm makes landfall in a ring around the calm eye of the storm known as the eyewall.

Hurricane conditions will likely hit the Carolina coast on Thursday night or early Friday.

"Our sand dunes are healthy but they're not going to be able to keep back a wall of water like that", he said. "And that will produce a lot of damage as well as prolong the beach erosion".

Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line. The storm's size and area affected by hazardous winds have actually expanded, and the threat from storm and rain-induced flooding "have not changed" tweeted Rick Knabb, The Weather Channel's tropical weather expert and former Hurricane Center director.

But between evacuations and storm shutter installations, NASA and NOAA are keeping people informed and entertained. Officials are urging others in its path to follow suit, or prepare for the worst.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

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Some 11,000 power outages have been reported in North Carolina.

Latest reports have the center of Florence approaching the coasts of North and SC on Thursday.

And the storm is still expected to bring catastrophic winds, rain, storm surges and flooding, the National Hurricane Center briefing said. A surge of at least 4 feet is predicted for a much larger area. Most wind damage will occur Friday and early Saturday as the storm slowly passes through southern North Carolina into SC. The D.C. region can expect a few inches of rain and coastal areas may experience minor flooding issues. Forecasters are also tracking two other disturbances.

Will Epperson, 36, a golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm in his home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity.

The simplest, most common metric for the measurement of a storm's intensity is maximum wind speed, and certainly this matters in terms of pure destructive potential when it comes to, say, losing a roof or propelling debris through the air.

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