The Latest: 'Catastrophic' flooding expected in Carolinas

Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C.,  Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area. (Trav

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area. (Trav

Michael and Polly Long walk down East Bay St. past a sign asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Flor

Michael and Polly Long walk down East Bay St. past a sign asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Flor

A bike rider makes her way down East Bay St. past a sign asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Flore

A bike rider makes her way down East Bay St. past a sign asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Flore

With most people off work and it looking like the Charleston, S.C., area will be spared from destructive winds many people biked to Dunleavy's Pub, on

With most people off work and it looking like the Charleston, S.C., area will be spared from destructive winds many people biked to Dunleavy's Pub, on

Pedestrians pass a sign at the Harbour View Inn asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Florence spins

Pedestrians pass a sign at the Harbour View Inn asking for Hurricane Florence to spare the Lowcountry in Charleston, S.C., as Hurricane Florence spins

Waves crash under the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. (AP Pho

Waves crash under the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. (AP Pho

Police patrol past boarded up shops along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coa

Police patrol past boarded up shops along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coa

An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches

An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches

New Hanover Sheriff's Corp. N. Brothers wraps a gas pump for protection in Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast Thursday, Sept.

New Hanover Sheriff's Corp. N. Brothers wraps a gas pump for protection in Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast Thursday, Sept.

In this Sept. 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the U.S. east coast as seen from the Inte

In this Sept. 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the U.S. east coast as seen from the Inte

An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches

An onlooker checks out the heavy surf at the Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches

Heavy surf crashes the dunes at high tide in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. (AP Photo/Gerr

Heavy surf crashes the dunes at high tide in Nags Head, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. (AP Photo/Gerr

Police patrol past boarded up shops along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coa

Police patrol past boarded up shops along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coa

Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee I

Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee I

This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018

This enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018

Filling sandbags with sand provided by the City of Tybee Island, Sib McLellan, left, and his wife, Lisa McLellan, prepare for Hurricane Florence, Wedn

Filling sandbags with sand provided by the City of Tybee Island, Sib McLellan, left, and his wife, Lisa McLellan, prepare for Hurricane Florence, Wedn

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence t

Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence t

Members of law enforcement work with the National Guard to direct traffic onto U.S. Highway 501 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast Wednes

Members of law enforcement work with the National Guard to direct traffic onto U.S. Highway 501 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast Wednes

New Hanover Sheriff's deputy J. Brown wraps a gas pump for protection in Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast Thursday, Sept. 1

New Hanover Sheriff's deputy J. Brown wraps a gas pump for protection in Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast Thursday, Sept. 1

Fishermen launch a boat as they attempt to recover their haul-seine fishing net, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Virginia Beach, Va., as Hurricane Floren

Fishermen launch a boat as they attempt to recover their haul-seine fishing net, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Virginia Beach, Va., as Hurricane Floren

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Florence (all times local):

2 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

___

11 p.m.

Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and more is to come.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.