But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky. Older homes and less-reinforced homes will sustain some wind damage as well.
There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.
A hurricane warning is in effect for a big chunk of the Carolina coast, from the South Santee River below Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Duck, N.C. - part of the Outer Banks. Given its expected slow speed once it rolls ashore, they warned the heavy rain and storm could spread across a wide area. This forces the water even further inland. REUTERS/Carlo AllegriDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.
A now weakened Category 2 storm, Hurricane Florence still is expected to be "extremely dangerous" and a "life-threatening hurricane" the National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters predict it will make landfall between Thursday and Friday.
While Florence has lost some of its strength, it is still considered an extremely unsafe and life-threatening storm. Some fluctuation in wind speeds are expected, and weakening forecast Thursday, but it's still expected to be a fierce storm triggering risky flooding.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.
While max sustained winds have decreased the area of hurricane force winds has increased. It caused 117 fatalities and cost the US $17 billion.
Clearing the roads of hurricane-blown debris could take a couple of days or even weeks, says Dorf, depending on the severity the storm. "Even though [Florence] has weakened, it is no less risky than it was yesterday". "Once these winds start blowing at that tropical storm rate, it will be virtually impossible for the rescuers to get in to rescue you".
"Think of it like a marathon", said Mark Robinson, from The Weather Network, also in Wilmington with Kourounis. While, of course, this is a good thing, by no means should anyone down in the Carolinas feel that they are out of the woods.
On the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Hurricane Florence is a Category 4, meaning it is capable of causing "catastrophic damage". This is Robinson's 18th; Kourounis, who was in Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005, thinks this is either his 20th or 21st.
"They try to stay open as long as they can", Kourounis said. Some 11,000 power outages had been reported by Thursday morning.
Robinson noted that some of the forecasts are expecting rainfall of 800 to 1000 mm over a 30-hour period. "It's something we haven't seen. ever". And it's more than the Calgary floods of 2013. It's a game of wait and see. Practically, however, that won't matter when it comes to storm surge and inland rainfall.