While the storm may have slowed down slightly, it will still bring life-threatening storm surges, high winds, massive flooding and power cuts as it makes landfall on the coast of North and SC.
The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC added. In South Carolina, close to the Georgia line, Beaufort County emergency chief Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.
Overnight, Isaac began to fall apart as it encountered increasing atmospheric winds that help shred storms and neared dry air.
People have been ordered to evacuate the Carolinas ahead of strong winds and heavy rain as the hurricane lands.
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This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as it threatens the U.S. East Coast. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.
Florence's winds had dropped from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 105 miles per hour (165 kph) by midmorning, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2. Catastrophic river flooding and flash flooding will occur for a large portion of eastern North and SC.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.
Florence is lashing the state with "heavy rainbands with tropical-storm-force winds spreading across the Outer Banks and Coastal Southeastern North Carolina", the briefing said. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely risky storm for rain and storm surge.
Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.
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Maryland is not predicted to receive the brunt of the storm.
Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.
About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said. Roper St. Francis spokesman Brian DeRoy said all of their major facilities will be open during the storm, but they ask patients with procedures scheduled to call and confirm.
Slightly lesser rainfall of three inches is forecast across Puerto Rico and the southern United States Virgin Islands, with up to an inch anticipated across the remaining Windward and the Leeward Islands.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm, " National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
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