'Monster' storm: Hurricane Florence is a rare threat in an unusual location

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow in intensity

Hurricane Florence is expected to grow in intensity

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday yesterday as the town appeared to be emptying.

The huge storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane overnight, but forecasters warned that it still packed a risky punch - 110 mile-an-hour (175 kph) winds and torrential rains.

Hurricane, tropical-storm and storm-surge watches and warnings now cover 10 million people from North and SC to Virginia. But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program.

Speaking in the Oval Office alongside Trump, FEMA administrator Brock Long said Hurricane Florence may be a "very devastating storm".

As of 11 a.m., the potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm was centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, moving at 15 mph (24 kph) with winds of 130 mph (215 kph) and enough moisture to dump feet of rain on the region.

Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the entire state, including Cobb County, as Hurricane Florence nears landfall along the coast of the Carolinas.

Hurricane Florence weakened overnight, but is still a powerful storm.

The US president said he had spoken to governors of threatened states, adding that the "federal government stands by, ready to assist 24/7".

It is then expected to drift southwest along the shoreline before moving inland on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

But the hurricane center said it is "still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday".

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SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of 1 million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

The Miami-based center says the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later today.

Watch Spectrum News LIVE on your desktop, laptop or mobile device for storm coverage. "This is not going to be one of those storms that hit and move out to sea". A further 10 million people are now under some form of storm watch.

"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary".

An American astronaut posted two additional photographs from the International Space Station, showing the storm aimed at Cape Hatteras, a thin and vulnerable strand of islands that jut out from North Carolina.

Instead of pushing directly towards states like West Virgina, Kentucky, or IN (following a generally northwest track from its initial landfall), Florence may now stall out on top of SC before moving west or southwest towards Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. "We are leaving him our generator, but I don't think it's particularly smart of him".

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore.

For anyone hoping that Hurricane Florence will be the only major hurricane of the season, residents of the east coast won't be so lucky.

Subtropical storm Joyce formed in the Atlantic on Wednesday but is not expected to threaten land.

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