Winds from Florence moving ashore at North Carolina Outer Banks: NHC

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Tens of thousands were without power.

Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely unsafe. Heavy rainfall began after dark.

Florence's winds had dropped from a peak of 225 kph to 165 kph by midmorning, reducing the hurricane from a Category 4 to a Category 2.

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This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac. "It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

"Inland flooding will be a major threat and something people far from the landfall location should be concerned about", Miller said.

He urged people in the coastal Carolinas and living near inland rivers to evacuate.

"With this storm, what's unique is it's forecast to stall ... dropping copious amounts of rainfall across the Carolinas and into Virginia", Long said. The National Hurricane Center, which called these levels "catastrophic", has created a augmented reality tool that helps visualize how severe the storm surge could be.

"Large size and slower forward motion as Florence comes ashore is bad news".

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would travel to the region next week unless his trip would disrupt clean-up and rescue efforts. As of Thursday, almost a dozen airports have shut down, with more than 1,000 flights being canceled.

Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

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"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. "Because it's Mother Nature".

Because landfalling hurricanes commonly spawn twisters, a tornado watch was issued for eastern North Carolina.

The National Guard is on standby in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to deal with emergencies as they arise.

Homeless after losing her job at Walmart three months ago, 25-year-old Brittany Jones went to a storm shelter at a high school near Raleigh.

"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", he said at a news conference. "Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks".

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.

As of Wednesday night, Florence's tropical storm force winds were almost 400 miles wide - or the roughly the equivalent of driving from Washington, D.C, to Charlotte, North Carolina; or from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to St. Louis; or from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

With their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

The storm has a wide reach, too. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind does.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said.

"We have prepared everything", he says, "to have enough food, water, batteries, radio, first-aid supplies, and everything we need to be safe".

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