Photos of Hurricane Florence from space are truly scary to behold

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The National Weather Service's best guess was that the hurricane would blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding. Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas in 2012, came in at $65 billion, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places. Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that it would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Category 4 storm was about 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and moving northwest at about 16 mph. President Trump has declared an emergency in the three states and says the government is "as ready as anybody has ever been".

Forecasters predict the storm will make landfall late Thursday night or sometime Friday.

He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain". North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

Three neighbourhoods burst into flames after horror gas line explosion
Fire and utility crews were still going door to door on Friday to conduct safety checks and shut off gas meters, officials said. The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles north of Boston , near the New Hampshire border.

"An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft that was in the hurricane until just after midnight" recorded a peak wind gust of around 150 miles per hour, according to the hurricane center.

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less risky, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. The center said the waves were measured by satellite.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina, with 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 63 kph would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's centre reaching the coast Friday.

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and planned to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm.

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