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Answers to the 5 most asked questions about Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is a powerful Category 2 hurricane packing wind speeds of 110 mph and is expected to bring devastating storm surge to the Carolina coast before dumping heavy rain across the Charlotte area for days.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hurricane Florence continues to barrel toward the coast of the Carolinas as a powerful Category 2 hurricane.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Florence packs sustained winds of 105 mph. The storm is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall to parts of the Carolinas with widespread flooding expected.

With the storm already making an impact on the coastline, these are the most commonly asked questions, answered by the NBC Charlotte First Warn Storm Team.

When will Hurricane Florence hit?

Florence is already making its presence felt along the coast of North Carolina. The Outer Banks are experiencing wind gusts over 30 mph and rain from the outermost bands has begun to fall in coastal areas of both North and South Carolina.

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First Warn forecaster Larry Sprinkle says Hurricane Florence will likely make landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane early Friday morning, possibly around 2 a.m. The timing of the official landfall could change with any shift in Florence's track over the next 12-18 hours.

Where is Hurricane Florence now?

As of the 2 p.m. advisory released by the National Hurricane Center, Florence is about 180 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 270 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Florence is moving northwest at about 10 mph. Storm surge warnings, hurricane warnings, and tropical storm warnings are in effect along the coast of the Carolinas.

When will Hurricane Florence hit Charlotte?

The Charlotte area will likely begin to feel some tropical storm force winds and gusts from Florence late Thursday night as the outer bands make their way farther inland. Sprinkle says rain from the storm will begin in eastern parts of the Charlotte area near Rockingham in the mid-afternoon hours Friday.

Rain is expected to begin in Charlotte late Friday evening and into Saturday. Once the heavy rain reaches Charlotte, periods of heavy downpours are expected to last several days. The worst of the storm will likely last into Monday for Charlotte before what's left of Florence will move to the north and west.

What is the impact from Hurricane Florence on Charlotte?

Heavy rain, mostly. First Warn meteorologist Chris Mulcahy expects anywhere from 4-10 inches across the Charlotte area, depending on your location. Areas east and south of Charlotte are expected to receive higher totals from Florence. Wind gusts from Florence could reach tropical storm force (39+ mph), while sustained winds are expected to be in the 20-30 mph range.

In the city of Charlotte, expect anywhere from five to eight inches of rain associated with Florence. Because the showers will last for several days, wet soil will likely lead to plenty of downed trees and power outages in and around Charlotte. Duke Energy is expected anywhere from 1-3 million power outages across the Carolinas due to the storm. In the eastern parts of the Carolinas, Duke says the outages could last several weeks before power is fully restored due to flooding.

How big is Hurricane Florence?

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Florence has grown in size to nearly 650 miles wide. While the storm has weakened from a wind speed standpoint, the wind field has grown by nearly 200 miles, according to Mulcahy.

With a diameter of more than 600 miles, Florence is now bigger than both Carolinas and will have widespread impacts from heavy rain across two states.

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