"Battering winds and relentless rain that'll last for days". The hurricane is now 235 miles ESE of Wilmington, North Carolina and is moving toward the northwest at 17 mph. It has slowed down and will continue to do so moving to the northwest at 5 miles per hour. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives. "Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over short distances", the advisory said. If it follows its most likely track, Florence will be the first major storm to make landfall so far north in the US.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said.
5 a.m.: The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows little change to Florence's path or strength.
The storm was about 100 miles southeast of Wilmington and had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, which is slightly weaker than earlier Thursday, the briefing said.
A slow westward to west-southwestward motion is expected Friday night and Saturday.
Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater. It was moving 10 miles per hour toward the Port City, the advisory said.
More than 10 million people in Virginia, North Carolina and SC are under a storm watch or warning.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. Overall, the storm is 400 miles wide.
Don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a Category 2 hurricane; categories only denote the speed of sustained winds - and these are still ferocious.
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
Hurricane Helene, Subtropical Storm Joyce and the potential disturbance are not expected to affect land in the next five days, if at all. Wilmington and Brunswick County communities like Bolivia and Oak Island have seen rainfall up to 8 inches.
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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.
A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.
For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office. "We're about to be in the thick of it".
Forecasters say Hurricane Florence is still a unsafe storm, despite its winds weakening as it moves closer to the U.S. East Coast.
"It will be historic", Baker said of the rain from Florence.
Hurricane Florence's initial assault on the North Carolina coast is underway.
Aside from safety concerns, Atlantic Coast Conference schools face scheduling obstacles, monetary implications and bowl considerations.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.
"A life-threatening storm surge is now highly likely along portions of the coastlines of SC and North Carolina", the National Hurricane Center explains.
"This is a life-threatening situation". At least two dozen utility trucks gathered near Charlotte Motor Speedway to prepare to move in and start restoring power as soon as conditions are safe.
In addition, the threat of storm surges looms for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible.