Hurricane Florence Rocks Wooden Pier in Nags Head

People walk on a local street as water from Neuse River starts flooding houses upon Hurricane Florence coming ashore in New Bern North Carolina

And don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.

"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

By the time it leaves, it's expected to have unloaded 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue said.

Footage shows a pier and a beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, being hit with heavy surf as the storm rolls into the area.

Describing Hurricane Florence as "a no-kidding nightmare" is certainly appropriate, with Gerst warning Americans on the East Coast to prepare for the storm's arrival. "We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".

Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.

"You have water coming onshore and you can rainfall coming down that's trying to move out", he said.

Sixteen kilometres away in the city of Wilmington, wind gusts were stirring up frothy white caps into the Cape Fear River.

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One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said.

According to the BBC, floodwaters may ride up to 13ft (4 metres) and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Brock Long, explained: "So this is a very risky storm". The biggest problem will likely be mass power outages, he says.

Already Thursday, streets were transformed into raging streams and massive waves surged along the Outer Banks.

The Charleston area will see winds near tropical storm strength of 40 miles per hour and somewhere between 3 to 6 inches of rain.

After maintaining Category 4 or 3 status most of Wednesday, Florence was a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph churning about 205 miles southeast of Wilmington, according to a 5 a.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center. More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 105 miles per hour (165 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend. "The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed".

Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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