3 million could lose power when Hurricane Florence hits

Marshall vs. South Carolina game cancelled due to Hurricane Florence

Marshall vs. South Carolina game cancelled due to Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is now expected to hit the Carolina coast with less powerful winds, a trade-off with increased rainfall - which may ultimately be more damaging for some areas.

A man runs past a mandatory evacuation sign before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

The Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph is expected to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain in the coast North Carolina area, and 5 to 10 inches in western SC and northern North Carolina, per the National Weather Service. The Wilmington area can now expect 9-to-13-foot storm surges if Florence's peak impact coincides with high tide, Brunswick County coastal areas west of Southport can expect 6-to-9-foot surges.

Skerrit said that while the latest weather bulletin has indicated that Isaac is now a tropical storm, he was reminding citizens that in 2015, tropical storm Erika killed at least 20 people, caused floods and mudslides that have set the country back 20 years.

The storm is now 280 miles southeast of Wilmington with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

And in the path of where Florence is expected to make landfall, Gordon Reddick - also a hurricane veteran of Bertha, Fran, Bonnie, Hanna - believes he can wait out yet another storm.

The message from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to residents was bleak.

But in Maryland, possible impacts were diminishing as the storm's track shifted to the south and west. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office said strong winds are "unlikely to be a factor" here, and heavy rain is expected to be a risk only for Southern Maryland and to the south.

Duke Energy told The Associated Press that damage from Hurricane Florence could cut off electricity to three-quarters of some 4 million customers in the Carolinas.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm approached, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations. He says: "If Mama and Grandma are going, then a lot of people are leaving".

"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen", he warned residents.

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where Florence appeared headed for shore, grew empty and quiet on Wednesday.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", it said early Wednesday. "Also, a little creepy".

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