More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

"We will have catastrophic effects".

Hurricane Florence, from which tropical-storm-force winds are extending nearly 200 miles, has begun pounding the Carolina coastline as officials make last-minute pleas for residents to evacuate. "This large-scale feature is expected to keep the hurricane moving northwestward today, followed by a turn toward the west at a much slower speed on Friday as the ridge to the north of Florence weakens due to a weak shortwave trough dropping slowly southward from the Ohio Valley".

Up to 10 million people lie in the path of the storm, which still poses a risk to life and property, although it has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.

The center said the threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days.

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 128km from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 320km out. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm smashes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and crawls slowly inland.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images A auto goes through a flooded street during the heavy rain of outer bands of Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, United States on September 13, 2018. Millions of people are expected to lose power and it could take weeks to resolve the outages.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump said on Twitter.

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People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Florence had once been a Category 4 storm, but even as a Category 1, it could still packs winds of 90 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by.

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Storm surge is deadly. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.

Another Wilmington resident said she does not want to leave because she is afraid to see what she would be coming back to.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who made a decision to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.

Warning of looming storm surges of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 meters), he urged residents to take the storm seriously no matter the category, saying "this is all about the water anyway". "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

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