NASA video shows Hurricane Florence from space as it makes landfall

The storm brought 90 miles per hour winds and rains that likely won't let up for days in the Carolinas.

It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast. "(It's) a risky situation here", Cooper said. US government statistics show some parts of the state got more than 1.5 metres of rain in five days.

The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 35 miles (55 kms) from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 170 miles (280 kms) out.

The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said.

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.

He said "24 to 36 hours remain for significant threats" from heavy rain, storm surge and flooding.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said.

POWER OUTAGES North Carolina utilities have estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.

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Both rivers overflowed their banks, flooding homes, stores and streets and trapping many people in their houses.

Five million people are at risk with warnings of possible landslides and flooding.

The NHC predicted "catastrophic freshwater flooding" to hit "over portions of North and SC".

"Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Florence on September 14 at 7:41 a.m. EDT minutes after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina packing winds of 90 miles an hour", NASA said in a video description.

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it 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 waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago. "We didn't know where to go", she said.

"And it's just a Category 1 hurricane", Tarr said. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of 30 centimetres to 1 metre as the hurricane-turned-tropical storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. The hurricane, which has been downgraded from a category four storm to a category two, is not expected to weaken any further before it hits the coast.

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week.

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