CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -
Hurricane Florence is continuing to lash the North Carolina coast as a Category 1 storm early Friday morning, while South Carolina is expecting heavy rainfall and wind in the next few days.
Currently, Florence is packing 90 mph winds as it moves northwest at 6 mph. As of early Friday morning, it's about 55 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The hurricane is expected to come ashore sometime Friday morning near the North Carolina and South Carolina border and slowly moves inland, according to most of the latest track models.
Even though the system has diminished in strength, it's forecasted to be a huge rain maker as it slowly moves across South Carolina following landfall which would downgrade it further to a tropical storm.
Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said the major concerns for the Lowcountry right now are heavy rainfall and tropical storm force winds from late Friday night through Saturday which could lead to power outages.
Walsh said emphasis should not be focused on the storm diminishing in power, but the fact that it's still a giant and slow moving system that's going to bring a lot of wind and rain to the Lowcountry.
The rain and wind slightly ramp up Friday night into Saturday, it's during this time Florence is expected to move into the northeastern regions of South Carolina after making landfall in North Carolina.
"This isn't going to be a coming and going storm, it's going to stick around for a couple of days," Walsh said.
By Sunday, we're still expected to feel the influence of Florence with possible tropical storm force winds in eastern and central South Carolina.
Those effects are expected to be felt by Horry and Georgetown counties starting early Friday morning, with the possibility of hurricane force gusts.
A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. The latest data shows the Tri-County being affected by tropical storm force winds Friday morning until Saturday morning with winds between 35 mph to 45 mph and gusts of 60 mph.
"Remember it was supposed to be a Category 4 but we absolutely cannot disregard this storm," Live 5 Meteorologist Joey Sovine said. "It's still possible Florence stays over water, remaining strong and moving south."
The eventual shift south into South Carolina is attributed to a big area of high pressure in the north that is keeping the hurricane to the south.
"You can see, if it rides the edge of the forecast cone, and we can't discount that, there is a better chance this remains a hurricane," Sovine said. "By tomorrow at this time, we should be able to tell you whether it will weaken rapidly after it heads into North Carolina or if it stays out over water and moves south closer to South Carolina."
Early Friday morning, Florence was moving west-northwest at 6 mph with its center located at 34.1 North, longitude 77.2 West.
A turn toward the west at a slow forward speed is expected today, followed by a slow west-southwestward motion tonight and Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
On the forecast track, the center of Florence is expected to move inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina Friday and Saturday, NHC officials said.
Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.
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