WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Florence (all times local):
The National Hurricane Center says that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.
The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and more is to come.
Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.
The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.