The leading edge of Hurricane Florence lashed the coast of the Carolinas on Thursday as the weakened but widening storm edged closer to the Southeastern U.S., bearing dangerous winds and drenching rains.
Florence’s sustained winds fell to 110 mph overnight, dropping it back to a Category 2 storm. But the still-powerful storm also grew even larger, visible from outer space as an enormous circular mass set to envelop the coastline, with tropical-storm-force winds extending nearly 200 miles ahead of Florence’s center.
“Please hear my message — we cannot underestimate this storm,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, speaking Thursday at a briefing in Raleigh, the capital. He warned of “battering winds and relentless rains that will last for days,” with storm surges up to 13 feet, reaching the second stories of buildings in vulnerable coastal areas.