Flights cancelled in the US Southeast as Hurricane Florence approaches

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"Don't plan to leave once the winds and rains start".

Winds were already picking up along the coastline on Thursday morning and some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and in some coastal towns.

"Total innundation" is expected in eastern and southeastern North Carolina, as well as northern Southern California, and the storm surge could reach in "excess of 3.05m in some areas", Accuweather added. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

The Hurricane Center predicts the storm to maintain this strong Category 2 intensity until landfall, after which wind speeds will steadily decline. But come Thursday, when Hurricane Florence hits, Jasper Newborn, who founded the shelter in 1990, hopes that the city's homeless population fills his shelter's beds. This includes Wilmington. A hurricane watch extends into the Charleston area. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Hurricane Florence looms over East Coast
A hurricane warning was in effect from the South Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., nearly 400 miles. A graphic of Hurricane Florence's path, generated today (Sept. 12) at 2 p.m.

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with weathermodels.com, warns that up to 10 trillion gallons of rain could fall on North Carolina from Florence. Both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters for people caught by the storm. Visit our sister site Live Science for the latest Hurricane Florence forecast. The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. At nine feet of storm surge flooding - expected in parts of North Carolina such as Newport - the only way to survive is to move up to a higher level until the flooding passes. Top winds near the center of the storm have decreased to 100 miles per hour - Category 2, but the strong winds have also spread out, which will result in the storm surge over a larger area.

Elder relatives carry as much weight as meteorologists in a tight-knit community of slave descendants on the SC coast.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., wrote Tuesday, "and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew."

It has become likely that the storm will reverse course early next week and turn back north toward West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, albeit significantly weakened. If the storm makes landfall as a Category 2, these winds will be damaging, sustained at up to 160km/h or so with higher gusts.

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Winds of up to 110km/h are also expected for several days as the weather system slowly grinds over.

In east Kinston, not far from one of the city's subsidized housing developments, Michael Weathington, 53, sat waiting for a ride on the porch of his home - a humble abode of whitewashed wooden siding beneath a rust-tinged metal roof. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.

Duke Energy said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

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. It's expected to move slowly over eastern SC on Friday night through Saturday night.

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Tropical Storm Florence continued to dump torrential rainfall on the Carolinas, posing a deadly flooding threat for millions. The core is also about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. But then they gradually diverge.

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