The Weather Channel Goes All In With Apocalyptic Hurricane Florence Graphics

Tony Winborne 37 looks at a computer in a Hurricane Florence evacuation shelter where he says it's

Tony Winborne 37 looks at a computer in a Hurricane Florence evacuation shelter where he says it's"better safe than sorry" at Conway High School in Myrtle Beach South Carolina

U.S. forecasters today downgraded Hurricane Florence to a Category 1 storm, as its outer edge lashed the Carolinas with strong winds and heavy rain. "Additionally, Florence's projected toll is less than Hurricane Sandy's toll of $69 billion and Katrina's cost of $161 billion", Myers said. Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening slightly - remains a "very unsafe storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.

Sea level rise also adds to storm surge damage: When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, a study found sea-level rise over the 20th century caused more than $2 billion in additional damage in New York City due to the "extra" storm surge it generated. It is now at Category 1.

By midnight, areas of coastal North Carolina were experiencing life-threatening storm surge, the National Weather Service said.

"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down. please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), earlier on Thursday. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding. Trump, who spoke with state and local officials on Friday, plans a visit to the region next week.

About 10 million people live in the path of the slow-moving storm and more than one million have been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic. "We just bought a new house so I'm kinda nervous".

"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood and making sure my neighbours are fine, because nobody can get in here". "We have a safe basement and generator that comes on automatically".

In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 150kph, dropping it to the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.


Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's (560 km) slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

Forecasters said conditions would only get more lethal when the storm smashed ashore early on Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and crawled slowly inland.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Mr Cooper's office said the current emergency declaration was helping state officials prepare for the storm.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

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