Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 105 miles per hour (165 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC. Most of the damage during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 in North Carolina came from inland flooding - 31 people died and almost 100,000 homes were destroyed.
"Put simply, Florence is a 'Category 5 flood threat, '" The Weather Channel concluded.
Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area.
According to authorities, however, Florence still has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making the hurricane extremely unsafe. Like a giant hair dryer, these winds push seawater into low-lying marshland and delta areas.
Florence is expected to go move slowly as it approaches North and SC, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday.
"This is a powerful storm that can kill", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in a Thursday press briefing.
Those surges alone are projected to cause inland flooding of more than 9 feet in cities like New Bern, North Carolina, even without the expected 15 to 20 inches of rain.More news: Paul Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Robert Mueller
One electricity company fears that three-quarters of its four million customers will lose power as a result of the storm, and may not be reconnected for weeks. That makes it hard to project how the region will ultimately be affected.
There is also the threat of life-threatening storm surge along the coastlines and rivers that feed out to the ocean from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. But here's the thing: the five hurricane categories of the National Hurricane Center's Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (which was developed in 1971) only measure wind-not the amount of rainfall or how long that rainfall occurs. A large portion of eastern North Carolina is under a tornado watch all day today and into tonight. As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities.
In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain.
Overcrowded animal shelters in some North Carolina districts were facing a more grim prospect: euthanizing animals that can't be shipped to safety. Her team manages 32 wild horses living in the Rachel Carson Reserve near Beaufort, North Carolina.
He said there are about 7,000 U.S. military forces now ready to respond to the storm - along with ships, helicopters and high-wheeled vehicles. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.
"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Cat 2, please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"There definitely is a risk, but the horses are smart".
"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said. Conditions will gradually deteriorate from here as Florence crawls ashore in the next 24-36 hours.