NHC says Florence has weakened to a tropical storm

A satellite image showing Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean this week

Dealers are parking cars in service bays for refuge. An estimated 772,000 people remained without power in North Carolina, along with 172,000 in SC.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week. Industries like tourism and agriculture will likely suffer, and the losses won't be easily or quickly overcome.

Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. 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".

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 past year.

"Data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft along with satellite imagery and various intensity estimates indicate that Florence has weakened instead of strengthening".

Storm surge, the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, is often the deadliest and most destructive threat from the storms. "Now it might be time for the exam", Baxley said late in the morning.

"Typically, we see a stimulus effect that creates jobs and raises incomes for South Carolinians", said Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist at the University of SC.

Hurricane Florence is slamming a region that is economically diverse as well as sizable. The agency is in constant contact with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. We'll discuss the latest on the storm. That's about half the amount Hurricane Harvey - the largest rainfall event in US history - dropped on the greater Houston area a year ago.

Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings. The port remains open to all commercial and recreational traffic.

"We will still be able to respond, but we won't be at our outlying coastal units", Reed said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

Screenshot/ WCTIWCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 in New Bern, N.C., was forced to evacuate due to Hurricane Florence, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. "It's a big one", he said.

South Carolina's most popular tourist destination is like a ghost town. Tropical storm watches extend as far north as Norfolk, Virginia. While inland areas may be spared the strongest winds, they could be vulnerable to flooding, especially if close to overflowing rivers.

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