WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 13, 2018) (REUTERS) – Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence on Thursday (September 13) as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the U.S. southeast.
The center of Florence, no longer classified as a major hurricane but still posing a grave threat to life and property, is expected to hit North Carolina’s southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday, enough time to drop feet of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Businesses and homes in the storm’s path were boarded up and thousands of people had moved to emergency shelters, officials said, urging anyone who remained near the coast to flee. Millions were expected to lose power, perhaps for weeks.
Florence’s maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 110 miles per hour (175 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC. The storm was about 170 miles (275 km) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Some in Wilmington could not resist getting one last look at their downtown before the storm hit.
More than one million people had been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.