Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90mph winds and terrifying storm surges on Friday, splintering buildings and trapping hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching.
Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 225 km/h, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night. FEMA officials wrote on Twitter people should not focus on the category of the storm - as of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 2 storm, indicating slower wind speeds - but rather should pay attention to the fact there will be extreme flooding in the Carolinas as a result.
Yesterday, the European Space Agency released a short video of astronauts aboard the space station watching the storm out of the cupola armed with powerful cameras to capture its giant knot of storm clouds.
The Hurricane Center forecasts that Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday.
Hurricane Florence is expected to pack a potentially life-threatening punch as it continues its path toward the United States east coast.
The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said.
Officials say 321,000 people are without power in North Carolina as Florence pounds the area. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.
The storm surge had decreased to about 8 feet later Friday morning, Roberts said, but that was mostly attributed to changes in the Neuse River's tide.
The National looks at the science behind Hurricane Florence and why it's being called a once-in-a-generation storm.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
"The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are the early warnings of the days to come", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters just before the hurricane made landfall.
North Carolina Emergency Management warned residents on Friday to stay indoors, avoid stagnant or moving flood waters and have their emergency kits ready. Hurricane-force winds extended 130 kilometres from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometres. "But we are going to do everything we can". "So if you're on the beach the time to go is now".