It's estimated as many as 3 million homes and businesses in North and SC could lose power after Hurricane Florence drives into the coast, leaving much of the region in darkness for weeks. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds up to 195 miles.
Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.
Hurricane Florence is bigger than the state of North Carolina and four times larger than Ohio.
Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend.
"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference. "We can not underestimate this storm".
A ideal storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence will likely be catastrophic for parts of the Southeast. A storm surge warning is in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina.
Most of those cancellations are tied to the approaching hurricane, now a Category 2 storm with winds expected onshore late Thursday at more than 80 miles per hour.
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.
Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.
"Hurricane Florence was uninvited but she's just about here anyway", he said at a news conference. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said. As she smoked a cigarette outside the shelter set up in a high school in Washington, Belanger they learned a lesson when they tried to ride out Hurricane Hugo in their home in 1989.
Nearly 800,000 people are reported to be without power already in North Carolina, and officials have warned restoring electricity could take days or even weeks. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath.
Eduardo Corta cuts plywood boards to put on his mobile home a day before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges as high as 10ft (3m) in places. But previous research has shown that the strongest hurricanes are getting wetter, more intense and intensifying faster because of human-caused climate change.
Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that has since been downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a hotel in Wilmington several miles inland.
The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's approach said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "I should stay in my house, where I have water and food".
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