Forecasters said wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 mph (225 kph) to 110 mph (175 kph), reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely dangerous.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said
About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the
The hurricane center is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 80 mph (130 kph) before landfall, but with rainfall in the 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeter) range and up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge.
It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and
Boarding up his home in
"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again," he said.
Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track,
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence," Deal said.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time,"
"We hope to have something left when we get home," she said. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.
Forecasters worried the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said
"It's been really nice,"
For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes