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Florence weakens to Category 2, 'life-threatening' conditions still expected

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Tweeting on Wednesday, from aboard the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst shared: "Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you. #Horizons." Photo by Alexander Gerst/ESA/NASA

UPI

Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category 2 storm on Wednesday as it approached the East Coast, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. advisory Florence will move northwestward between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday. It will then slow considerably and produce extremely dangerous conditions in its path. The storm will most likely strike the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina late Thursday or Friday.

The NHC said an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft found that Florence's maximum sustained winds weakened to about 110 mph.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the eye of the storm was about 280 miles miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and 325 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was moving northwest at 17 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward 195 miles.

The storm is still expected to bring life-threatening rainfall and storm surge when it makes land in the United States.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said the hurricane is looking like a major event.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast," it said early Wednesday. "And that`s saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd and Matthew."

"I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm," one NWS forecaster said.

A hurricane warning was in effect from the South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, N.C., and in the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. A hurricane watch was issued for Edisto Beach, S.C., to the South Santee River.

A tropical storm warning, indicating the expectation of conditions below hurricane-strength winds, is issued from the Virginia-North Carolina border to Duck, N.C. A tropical storm watch is in effect between the area north of the states' border to Virginia's Cape Charles Lighthouse, as well as in the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

A storm surge warning, with anticipation of life-threatening inundation of rising water on the coast within the next 36 hours, is in effect for the South Santee River, S.C., to Duck, N.C., including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers at the Abemarle and Pamlico Sounds. A storm surge warning was called for the coast between Edisto Beach, S.C., and the South Santee River, and the coast north of Duck, N.C., to North Carolina's northern border.

Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 20 to 30 inches along the North Carolina coast -- and possibly 40 inches in some spots.

South Carolina is expected to see as many as 20 inches in some locations.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," the NHC added, also saying the storm could produce tornadoes in eastern North Carolina early Thursday.

President Donald Trump has approved requests for emergency declarations in the Carolinas, which will trigger federal assistance to both states.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Florence weakens to Category 2, 'life-threatening' conditions still expected
Florence weakens to Category 2, 'life-threatening' conditions still expected
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