Florence weakens to Category 2 hurricane but still life-threatening: NHC

Russian President Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok

Hurricane Florence is set to bring 50% more rainfall to the United States east coast due to human-induced climate change, according to a landmark forecast that has outlined the influence of warming temperatures upon the looming storm.

It is still expected to bring a storm surge of up to 13ft (4 metres), plus waves, at the North Carolina coast on Thursday before slowing down and dumping a huge amount of rain, triggering damaging flooding further inland.

The storm was about 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and 470 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

But what makes Florence so different from other storms this year?

This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.

An estimated 10 million people live in areas expected to be under a hurricane or storm advisory, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Centre, and businesses and homes in the storm's path were boarded up in anticipation. Hurricane Florence deserves all the names it's being called as it threatens to cause historic flooding, blow catastrophic winds and idle for days over the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic.

The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.

President Donald Trump both touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way.

"Don't play games with it".

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Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear-skies high-pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI.

Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up as the storm meanders inland is more uncertain, but models suggest that it may concentrate in southern North Carolina and northern SC through the weekend. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers and sent in around 1,100 trucks to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

A primary power supplier in the Carolinas, Duke Energy is already warning that some 75 percent of its 4 million customers could lose power - and not just for a few hours.

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

Models agree the storm should strike land between the North Carolina-South Carolina border and the North Carolina Outer Banks, and then track across South Carolina.

A man runs past a mandatory evacuation sign before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.

Solange Iliou Thompson, a restaurant owner in the town of Wilmington, North Carolina, made her stance clear. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".

"We have a day off. Let's get drunk!'" said Jordan Berry, the barman at Cape Fear Wine and Beer, a local haunt where sports programming had been replaced by weather forecasters on the television screens lining the walls of the bar. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. Although there isn't consensus over how warming ocean temperatures might affect the total number of hurricanes we see each year, scientists agree a warming climate will lead to more intense storms that bring more rain. In North Carolina, Cooper says, "2,800 soldiers will be on active duty, joined by even more on standby".

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