The outer bands of wind and rain from a weakened but still lethal Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina yesterday as the monster storm moved in for a prolonged and potentially catastrophic stay along the Southeast coast that could drench the homes of as many as 10 million people.
Gradually, Friday through the weekend (local time), the massive storm - containing a zone of tropical-storm-force winds almost 643km wide - will drift inland, engulfing much of SC and southern North Carolina.
Normally when we talk about the potential for hurricane damage, we talk about the impact of storm surges and high winds - both of which are, to be sure, incredibly risky in their own right.
Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Parts of North Carolina are forecast to see maximum sustained winds of up to 110 miles per hour and receive as much as 40 inches of rain, which could lead to historic flooding, forecasters said.
The weather event has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm but forecasters still warn of life-threatening storm surges. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH tourists Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
The European computer model has Florence veering before landfall and hovering for a couple days off the coast.
The hospital's president, Ronnie Sloan, said it is remaining open for "the same reason we got into health care".
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Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state
The storm originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning as a category one hurricane. The hurricane hit early Friday morning, and by afternoon the winds slowed from 90 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour .
'Monster' storm Florence: What you need to know
Any shift farther to the south in the track would increase rainfall totals across the area, and increase the threat for tornadoes. The police chief says he's not going to put his people in harm's way, especially for people they've already told to evacuate.
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
This is storm surge: a devastating phenomenon accompanying any tropical system.
Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly. St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma a year ago.
Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall in southeastern coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks. Tropical storm force winds and hurricane force winds could last for a duration of hours.
Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.
Waves crash around the Oceana Pier as the outer edges of Hurricane Florence being to affect the coast in Atlantic Beach on Thursday. The government of Puerto Rico accepted these numbers, too, after many months in which the official death toll was listed at 64 people. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said.
As Hurricane Florence spins counterclockwise, its strong wind causes water to pile up along the coastline.
"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired non-profit director.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.