NHC says Florence has weakened to a tropical storm

NWS									Will Hurricane Florence hit Savannah GA

NWS Will Hurricane Florence hit Savannah GA

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That's because the weather systems that push and pull a storm disappear as Florence nears land around the border between North and SC.

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

But authorities warned it will still be an extremely unsafe hurricane. Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. It caused most of the 1,200 deaths in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As of 11 p.m. EST, Florence was about 50 miles south of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 60 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to Cape Charles Light, VA, for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort, and for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 50 miles per hour (80 kph).

The South Carolina Department of Corrections' Palmer Pre Release Center a Level 1 Minimum Custody Prison in Florence, South Carolina, was evacuated in advance of Hurricane Florence due to security reasons.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain. But the change was probably temporary and didn't do anything to lessen the danger, said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Florence's winds in the afternoon were down slightly to 125 miles per hour, from a high of 140 miles per hour, and the Category 4 storm fell to a Category 3. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington. Despite the downgrade, Florence is expected to produce catastrophic flooding throughout the Carolinas.

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, while many of their neighbors awaited help. Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday. Some of those who stayed went to shelters while others stuck it out in their homes.Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters.

New Bern is a town of around 30,000 people on the Neuse River, near North Carolina's coast.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state. As her son fed the goats in a hotel parking lot, she said she might not be able to return home until the middle of next week. "So yeah, not safe", Ochoa said. Protection of life is the absolute highest priority and that's what we are doing. Trump plans a visit to the region next week.

They don't retire the name of every hurricane - and there's already a buzz that Florence will join the likes of Hazel (1954), Hugo (1989), Fran (1996) and Isabel (2003), the four most destructive hurricanes to strike the southeastern United States.

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