Hurricane Florence: Your guide to the story

There have reportedly been 800-plus flights canceled as a result of Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence has begun battering it's way through the North Carolina coastline with heavy rain and high winds in what people fear could lead to the deaths of "a lot of people". "Today the threat becomes a reality".

"Growing confidence that Southeast SC will experience a [prolonged] period of tropical storm winds and heavy rain Friday - Saturday from #Florence. This may be worse than what we've seen before", Assistant Fire Chief Joey Roberts said during a press conference Wednesday.

"We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. "We have to keep watching". It will then move along the "spine of the Appalachians".

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm approached, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. The prospect of even more rain across Pennsylvania anxious Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome Sr. on Thursday.

"I'm not going to lie: I'm scared", she said. "We have a safe basement and generator that comes on automatically".

In the Carolinas, forecasters said that given the storm's size and a likely sluggish track, the hurricane could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial and farm waste sites.

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Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm. It is an enormous storm, and it's moving slowly.

At least 188,000 people were without power in North Carolina and SC.

Maryland, too, remains under a state of emergency. Municipal power agencies, including New Bern and Southport, have not reported any outages yet.

Hurricanes can push masses of water from the sea over land when they come ashore, raising local sea levels by as much as 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters' European climate model is predicting 2 trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Linda Foy said the utility has withdrawn requests for extra help from crews in other states.

The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter.

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