Florence's winds had dropped from a peak of 140 miles per hour to 105 miles per hour by Thursday, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.
The fierce winds of Hurricane Florence are weakening as it creeps closer to North Carolina but the impact of the enormous storm will still be catastrophic for millions of people.
Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
ADCIRC predicts Florence's winds will cause 9 to 13 feet of storm surge in some areas along the North Carolina coast.
Florence is lashing the state with "heavy rainbands with tropical-storm-force winds spreading across the Outer Banks and Coastal Southeastern North Carolina", the briefing said. Residents should expect to see higher tides than usual on the James and York rivers, as well as possible flooding and beach erosion. "The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed". Vanotteren and his friend Bailey Gaddis said the waves have gotten bigger and better every evening as the storm approaches.
Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI.
Calling the storm surge prediction "incredible", Graham said that because Florence will likely nudge its way onto the coast, giving its hurricane winds lots of time to force water inland, he wouldn't be surprised "to see storm surge a mile, a mile and a half inland - maybe even two miles or more, in some cases". But Gov. Larry Hogan said he wouldn't cancel a statewide emergency declaration as the threat of Florence's remnants looms. The agency is also warning people in the evacuation areas to leave stating that "This is not going to be a glancing blow". "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. The storm's 12-mph speed Thursday morning was a marked drop from Wednesday's 17-mph speeds.
If you want to know more specific information about your area, head to the National Weather Service's social media page, where you can enter your zip code and find your local forecast office.
After landfall, the storm is expected to linger over the area for a few days, which would result in rising river levels and lakes. The surge won't be as bad as it potentially could have been, however, and the winds won't be as strong.
Navarro concluded by emphasizing again that this is a serious life-threatening situation and people need to be evacuating. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars. Cooper said he hopes more shelters will also open today. "It's chilling, even from space".