Putting the enormity of Hurricane Florence into perspective

View of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station

View of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station

Florence's top sustained wind speeds dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour to 110 miles per hour as its outer rain bands approached the North Carolina coast early Thursday, reducing the storm from Category 4 to Category 2.

Hurricane Florence, from which tropical-storm-force winds are extending nearly 200 miles, has begun pounding the Carolina coastline as officials make last-minute pleas for residents to evacuate.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump said on Twitter.

Wilmington resident Julie Terrell was plenty concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.

This is why you don't mess with Mother Nature.

The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.

The storm is expected to affect airports in Georgia and Virginia.

Time is running short to flee Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm zeroing in on the Southeastern coast with more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights. "The anxiety level has dropped substantially", Epperson said. "And the vast majority of the time they are OK", she said.

Glenda Dougherty, also on the flight, was scheduled to come to Northeast Ohio for a wedding in a few weeks, but the storm altered her plans. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight".

Florence is expected to make landfall about 8 a.m. Friday, then stall over the Wilmington region, dumping up to 35 inches of rain and prompting worry of "extreme" flash flooding.

Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages.

Hurricane Florence's outer edges have started to batter the coast of North Carolina - with winds of 100mph bending trees and shooting frothy seawater onto the streets.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's center reaching the coast Friday. But previous research has shown that the strongest hurricanes are getting wetter, more intense and intensifying faster because of human-caused climate change. Florence, a storm expected to significantly impact the U.S.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place". "Well, we're about to get punched in the face".

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools canceled classes Thursday and Friday ahead of Hurricane Florence. The latter had to be relocated back to the reserve after the storm.

"If we need to re-examine the evacuation, that will be something that we will be looking at between now and tomorrow morning", he said.

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