Front keeps summer weather in Chicago for weekend, slows Hurricane Florence's progress

Hurricane Florence still poses grave threat despite weaker winds

Hurricane Florence Zeroes In On Carolinas, Bringing 130 MPH Winds

Florence has it all: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes.

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners.

Florence's sustained winds fell to 110 miles per hour overnight, dropping it back to a Category 2 storm.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.

Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the USA, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas. But authorities warned it will still be an extremely unsafe hurricane.

The clouds are seen before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, the United States, on September 12, 2018.

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The Carolinas and Virginia are preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Florence later this week and one of the most life-threatening elements of the storm is the amount of rainfall predicted to hit the area, reports Vox.

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update. Its maximum sustained winds dropped slightly from 110 miles per hour earlier Thursday to 105 miles per hour, but the storm remains a Category 2 hurricane that is expected to cause widespread catastrophic damage. That leaves the "spinning wheel" at the hurricane's core stranded, "and it'll just sit there until the weather pattern changes", he said.

"The rain's going to be around for a long time", he said. And if local officials recommend evacuation, evacuate immediately. Harvey was an excellent example of how the rain from a hurricane can be its own tremendous danger, and there's no point in taking chances. "This is a life-and-death situation".

Though most residents of North and SC and other areas in the hurricane's path have abided by the mandatory evacuation order, Kourounis jokes that the Waffle House is still open. Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency. "We just want prayers from everyone".

"Please hear my message - we can not underestimate this storm", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, speaking Thursday at a briefing in Raleigh, the capital.

The forecast calls for as much as 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain over seven days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the center of the storm pushes its way over the Appalachian Mountains.

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Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Georgia, crashes into waves in the surf bolstered by the incoming Hurricane Florence on the south beach of Tybee Island, Georgia.

"We're on the wrong side of this thing", he said.

"I'm not going to lie: I'm scared", she said.

Forecasters say the storm is likely to remain constant in strength, weakening only after the center of the storm moves inland.

The head of Duke Energy Corp.'s North Carolina operations says it could take weeks to restore electricity if the company's prediction that 1 million to 3 million of its 4 million customers lose power. North and SC already faced flooding earlier this summer.

In South Carolina and inland parts of North Carolina, 5 to 10 inches of rain could fall, with 20 inches possible in some areas.

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