Astronaut takes photo showing power of Hurricane Florence from space

Howard TerrySep 15, 2018

Thirty-six hours before catastrophic Hurricane Florence was predicted to make landfall, Virginia Beach residents and visitors awoke to blue skies and calm conditions. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday.

By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 30 inches (76 centimeters) - or even 40 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.

Speaking about the Wilmington area and its surrounding beaches in North Carolina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official said the inland flooding threat was "extreme".

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

Florence weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm on a five-step scale but had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour) as of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), down from 130 mph earlier in the day.

Amanda Kinseth, reporter for WPDE ABC 15 News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In Columbia, South Carolina, Barry Sparks, a 66-year-old retiree, was thinking of getting out after the path of the storm shifted somewhat to the south.

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

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations.

Satellite images show Florence has maintained a distinct eye and is well-organized.

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

And there's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometers) off shore versus heading inland immediately, Landsea said.

Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world.

Predictions now have the storm stalling and making a slight southward turn after it makes landfall.

The intensity of the wind and rain we'll see here is dependent on the exact track of the storm.

"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.

"North Carolina, my message is clear", a grim Gov. Roy Cooper said at a briefing today. "You can't argue with mother nature".

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