WHAT'S HAPPENING: Florence's rain bands lash Carolinas

Myrtle Beach

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".

When will Hurricane Florence hit?

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.

An estimated 20-30 inches of rainfall is projected for coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC - with up to forty inches in isolated areas.

"Hurricane Sandy was a Category 2 and it had a big impact on states up north", he said, referencing the 2012 storm that caused $70 billion in damage to Mid-Atlantic and New England states.

"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again", he said.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? Overall, Florence is approximately400 miles in diameter, according to The Associated Press in a report on September 13. That's because the longer this slow-moving hurricane hovers over land, the more rain it'll dump in the same places.

The hurricane, whose strength has been compared to a direct hit by Mike Tyson, advances with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometres per hour.

A large tropical system, hurricane-force winds extend outward from Florence's center of circulation for eighty miles.

"What we always try to do is make sure that everybody is informed, aware of everything that's going on, so they can make the right decisions", Kaplan said.

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Meanwhile, winds and rain were expected to arrive later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded. Evacuations have begun for people who live in the path of the hurricane which is expected to last a few days. On the inland side facing the river, Cramer says rising waters will very likely be "lapping at the first floor of our elevated homes".

High tides along the James and York rivers are expected to be as much as 3 feet above normal, which could affect flood-prone areas and roads, the weather service said.

Hurricane Florence weakened overnight, but is still a powerful storm.

In the city of Charlotte, expect anywhere from five to eight inches of rain associated with Florence.

Outside this zone of destructive winds, damaging winds are still likely, even some distance inland from the coast, which would lead to minor structural damage, downed trees and widespread power outages. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

How big is Hurricane Florence? .

Despite the hurricane losing wind intensity since its peak as a Category 4, it has grown substantially in overall size and its predicted deceleration in forward speed will take a costly toll.

On Tuesday, hurricane-force winds stretched 40 miles out from the center, Miller said.

Because landfalling hurricanes commonly spawn twisters, a tornado watch was issued for eastern North Carolina.

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