But it still brought torrential rain.
By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 112 km/h as it moved forward at 6km/h about 25 kilometres north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When they got to the home, the woman was dead, authorities said. "But I think we're ready".
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said radar and rain gauges indicated some areas got as much as 2½ feet of rain, which he called "absolutely staggering".
Jon Wright considers himself one of the lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C. - so far.
He said flooding will continue for days and the full magnitude of the hurricane is unknown.More news: President Trump Says Hurricane Maria Death Toll Rose Like 'Magic'
Others who chose to stay at home perhaps regretted their decision.
The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.
In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000 which is located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.
Nearly 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Mr Cooper said.
By 3 p.m., more than 15.5 inches had accumulated in Moorehead City, the National Hurricane Center reported. Numerous calls are from residents who are trapped in their homes, some of whom reported floodwater rising up to the second floor.
Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.More news: 83-Foot Wave Recorded By Satellite Monitoring Hurricane Florence
According to The Washington Post, at least four deaths have already been linked to the storm, and an entire town was cut off by water.
Roads became flooded, trees blown over and homes destroyed as some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges of flood water as high as 10ft. "You're going to have flooding miles and miles inland", the center's director, Ken Graham, said. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". Later Friday, a wind gust of 68 miles per hour was measured at a station in Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington. At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour. It was moving at a paltry 5 miles per hour.
Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's (560 km) slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. The storms slow and parallel movement to the coastline created several bands of heavy rain, capable of producing 2 to 4 inches of rain per hour, sitting over the same locations for essentially the last day and a half.
If you're anxious about flooding away from the coast, then the Southeast River Forecast Center is your go-to stop.
To prepare for this storm, businesses have been boarding up, and supplies have been readied for what is expected to be a large-scale relief operation.
The dolphins were spotted near the docks of the North Carolinians city, their fins briefly peaking out of the water before disappearing underneath. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.More news: Pam Knox: Georgians should be on lookout for Florence
"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late on Friday. "Everybody laughs at the fact that this storm got downgraded. but I've never seen tree devastation this bad". That advisory came out on August 30, when Florence was developing near the Cabo Verde Islands across the Atlantic.
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