Nearly two-thirds of the reported outages originated in Carteret County, along the coast about 100 miles northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Forecasters say wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it to a Category 2 storm.
At 10 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and was moving northwest at 17 mph.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.
Floodplain experts from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety expect several days of strong rain and wind that could cause flooding, mudslides, road closures and power outages. At this time, Florence was a Category 1 hurricane.
"It is an extremely unsafe, life-threatening, historic hurricane", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents during a news conference on Wednesday. He says: "If Mama and Grandma are going, then a lot of people are leaving". "We have seen heatwaves hitting Japan, Europe - especially the northern part of Europe - where a large part of the harvest has been lost, and we have seen quite devastating fires hitting Canada and western parts of the U.S.", he told us.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC...20 to 30 inches, isolated 40 inches. Farther inland, rain totals could reach 25 centimeters (10 inches) in the Carolinas, and 15 centimeters (6 inches) in neighboring states. "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".
Fountain said most storms are an inconvenience, "but Hurricane Florence will be a life-changing event for many people here in the Carolinas".
"We are prepared as a state", Farmer said, noting SC emergency officials come together every spring to go through catastrophe exercises in preparation for an event like Florence. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.
People walk past storm shuttered buildings on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk in Myrtle Beach
With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, around 50 stranded people had been airlifted out by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the U.S. Coast Guard.
It has an atmospheric pressure of 957 hectopascals at its center, and is packing winds of up to 176 kilometers per hour.
Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich at our sister WCNC said an earlier track showed Florence going just north of Charlotte.
In the case of Hurricane Harvey a year ago, human-caused warming was found to have made the storm's record-breaking rainfall three times more likely and 15% more intense.
Myrtle Beach is within an area under a hurricane warning that ran from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, at 2pm local time. The storm will likely damage homes and businesses, kill crops, drown livestock, wash away cars and suspend much of the area's economic activity.
There will be heavy associated rainfall, with accumulated totals up to 200 to 350 mm, waves from 3 to 12 meters (close to Mangkhut's center) and unsafe storm surge.
Expected track for Tropical Storm Florence.
Florence is anticipated to move slowly over eastern South Carolina Friday night through Saturday night.
That speed is expected to decrease gradually Thursday.
Olivia is the first tropical cyclone to make landfall on Maui in modern history, National Weather Service forecasters said. It's expected to bring tropical storm conditions and up to 5 inches of rain across the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.
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