More than 400k evacuate SC as Florence approaches

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North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light and Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening a bit - remains a "very unsafe storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the East Coast.

Because most are managed as wild animals, numerous horses will be left to fend for themselves, said Paula Gillikin of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakening to 70 miles per hour as it pushed inland.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".

As of 5 a.m., Florence was centered about 25 miles (35 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence has been labelled as unsafe due to heavy rain, stormy wind with the presence of toxic sludge.

No area in the United States would be able to easily deal with Hurricane Florence, but the communities in its path this time are more vulnerable than in the past. Isolated tornadoes also are possible.

We will continue to see conditions deteriorate tonight through Saturday. A few spotty downpours will be possible to go along with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.

"We can not underestimate this storm".

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage would be all the worse if it lingered on the coast. Farther west, expected winds are even lower. Those supplies mostly include food and water for anyone waiting for their next best chance to leave town.

Based on the current forecast track, here is what to expect... Tonight, we see some areas of patchy fog with temperatures slipping to near 60. More impactful weather will arrive through the day Friday and into the weekend.

"The response of North Carolina's this existential threat has been to attack the science, to allow the pace of coastal development on the Outer Banks and other pricey beachfronts to accelerate, and to invest money in quick fixes like sea walls that-in the opinion of scientists like Riggs-only make problems like coastal erosion worse", Will Bunch wrote for

Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC: 6-9′.

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain.

11 AM Update: Florence is now 145 miles ESE of Wilmington, NC.

Florence is now moving to the northwest at 17 kilometers per hour.

Georgia joined North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in issuing an emergency declaration as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of rain - potentially 37 trillion litres - on the southern states.

"Inland flooding kills a lot of people".

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 160 kph, but that could still cause at least $1 billion in damage.

Heavy bands of rain and tropical storm force winds are sweeping across the barrier islands off North Carolina and along the southeastern coast of the state.