The US east coast girded for a battering from Hurricane Florence late Thursday as the monster storm's outer edge began lashing the Carolinas with heavy wind and rain, which forecasters warned could trigger life-threatening floods even as it further weakened.
The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places. Waves off the shore of North Carolina have already gotten as high as 13 feet, he saYS.
Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.
The hurricane's sheer size means it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day, according to weather forecasters.
The mayor of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.
The biggest danger to life could be from storm surges, which are still predicted to be as high as 13ft (4m) between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout in North Carolina.
Early on Friday, the downtown area of the city of New Bern, on the Trent and Neuse rivers near the North Carolina coast, was underwater as emergency crews conducted several rescues, according to reports on social media.
What also makes Florence extremely risky are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.
"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said. As if the storm itself is not unsafe enough, it is expected to spawn tornadoes in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday. "We just want prayers from everyone".More news: Turkey rules property sales, rental agreements must be in lira
Forecasters' European climate model is predicting two trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com. "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".
This satellite image of Florence hurtling towards the east coast on Wednesday gives a sense of its massive scale.
Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.
"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".
But officials are not taking down their guard yet, and would wait until early next week to determine whether BGE could afford to send crews to other regions to help, she said.
More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate.
"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said.