More than a thousand flights canceled in advance of Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence churns through the Atlantic Ocean toward the U.S. East Coast on Sept. 12

Hurricane Florence churns through the Atlantic Ocean toward the U.S. East Coast on Sept. 12

The National Hurricane Center says "a life-threatening storm surge is now likely" along the North and SC coasts as Hurricane Florence approaches the US eastern seaboard.

"I said, 'Why get on the road like this? Thinking about those who will be effected (sic) and hoping everyone stays safe".

Florence's expanse even captured the attention of the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, who have been tweeting pictures of the storm back to Earth.

"Just because we have a landfall to the south doesn't mean your out of the woods because the wind around this storm is huge", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said Wednesday morning.

Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

"Protection of life is the absolute highest priority", he added.

The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC added.

The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding". Areas from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout face a potential 9 to 13 feet of storm surge, the National Hurricane Center warns, on top of the normal tides.

"Your time is running out", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said midmorning Thursday.

"Two years ago, we made hot dogs and sold PBR out of Bar Normandy", resident Chaz Green said at One Broad, a local restaurant that is now the go-to venue for hurricane parties.

Duke Energy Corp expected between 25 percent and 75 percent of its 4 million customers would lose power in the Carolinas.

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As of 11 a.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 145 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 10 mph (17 kph). Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency. Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to approach the Lesser Antilles Islands on Thursday.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said. The more it hovers just off shore, the more potentially deadly storm surge it could push on-shore.

Storm surge warnings were issued from South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina.

Workers prepare a house with storm shutters ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018. "There's nobody left to work".

"When that last ferry pulls out.it's unnerving to see it pull away and know, 'That's the last chance I have of getting off this island, '" she said Wednesday.

"What can you do?" she asked. "You can't stop Mother Nature".

"Everything is packed", Espinoza said.

The strongest winds will occur where and when the storm makes landfall in a ring around the calm eye of the storm known as the eyewall.

Susan Faulkenberry Panousis said she has stayed on Bald Head during prior hurricanes, but not this time.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate.

Hurricane Florence has slowed as it approaches Wilmington, now marching at 5 miles per hour as it continues to aim its center at Wilmington, according to a 5 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.

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