More than 98,000 without power in U.S. Southeast as Florence approaches

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The storm was a risky Category 4 hurricane Wednesday but has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm Thursday. North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said crops such as tobacco and corn are in midharvest while sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans and cotton are still in the field. "For these airports along the coast, like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues".

Even if a house is elevated 10 feet, with that kind of storm surge, "there's a good chance there's going to be water inside of it", Needham said.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said he hoped the effects of the storm would be limited. The storm was moving northwest at 10 miles per hour.

It is predicted to deliver tropical-storm-force winds by noon Thursday to North Carolina's coast, and hurricane-force winds and unsafe storm surges by late Thursday or early Friday.

Florence is forecast to crawl up to the North Carolina coast late this week and turn slowly left - a development that would smash the Tar Heel State with life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain while also endangering a large portion of SC.

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The rain posed a greater danger, forecasters warned, with some spots getting up to 1m of precipitation, enough to cause devastating flash floods miles from the coast.

According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the USA mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians".

Meanwhile, what could be the world's most unsafe storm at the moment is Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which now has winds of 165 miles per hour (with 200 miles per hour gusts) and is taking aim on the Philippines, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Hurricane Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas through Saturday night, dumping an insane amount of rain and wind on the area.

Scientists hypothesize that a warmer world will bring slower storms, so what we saw last year with Harvey - and now this year with Florence - could be a sign of those changes.

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Preceded first by the storm surge and the winds, heavy rains were picking up as of late Thursday afternoon, the beginning of an onslaught that for some areas may not relent for days. "Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall expected".

The first large power outage in the Wilmington area also occurred Thursday morning, with the Duke outage map showing almost 1,400 customers in the Acme-Delco area of Columbus County and northwest Brunswick County without power.

At 4am BST Wednesday the "monster" storm was centred 670 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast". "Now it might be time for the exam", he said. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins". "This storm is extremely unsafe". Because the storm was so strong earlier in the week, it built up a wall of water which will push inland as the storm surge. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

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"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.

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