Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday after making landfall earlier in the day in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, weather officials said. The agency's update came after Florence claimed its first victims Friday afternoon, when two people died after a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina, police said. There have been at four deaths in the midst of the storm. Florence was about 15 miles north-northwest of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and about 55 miles east-southeast of Florence, S.C.,the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an 8 p.m. update.
Moving westward at 3 mph, Florence has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the NHC.
"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move farther inland across extreme eastern South Carolina tonight and Saturday," the NHC said. "Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week." As the storm travels inland, "significant weakening" is expected through to early next week, the NHC said.
Among the fatalities so far: a person in Lenoir County who died while plugging in a generator, according to a news release from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office. "Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm," Cooper said in the news release. "Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert.