Dangerous Hurricane Florence edged closer Thursday to delivering a powerful blow to the east coast of the United States, with forecasters warning of life-threatening rainfall and flooding even as it weakened to a Category 2 storm.
At 1000GMT on 12 September, Florence had maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h (130 mph), the equivalent of a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, and a minimum central pressure of 946 hPa, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
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Of three named tropical systems, Hurricane Florence is by far the most risky.
But its slow march over the two states, crawling west at only 3 miles per hour (6 km per hour), is expected to leave large parts of the region deluged in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Saturday. The last major hurricane to impact the Carolinas was Hugo in 1989.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
"Get out of its way, don't play games with it, it's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen", Trump said.
The storm is moving steadily toward the Carolinas' coastal areas.
So far, it's estimate more than 1.7 million Americans have heeded the warnings about Hurricane Florence.
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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages", cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.
Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Duke Energy Corp expected between 25 percent and 75 percent of its 4 million customers would lose power in the Carolinas.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
As of Wednesday night, Florence's tropical storm force winds were almost 400 miles wide - or the roughly the equivalent of driving from Washington, D.C, to Charlotte, North Carolina; or from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to St. Louis; or from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Bridges, airports and ferry services in the affected areas face closure if winds grow too violent, while roads and rail routes might also be cut off.
People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down for a direct hit in the low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.
"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said. Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.