(AP) —Hurricane Florence has gotten a little bit weaker but it remains a very large and dangerous storm.
At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 435 miles (700 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 16 mph (26 kph).
It's a potentially catastrophic Category 3 storm with 125 mph (205 kph) maximum sustained winds.
Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning. Florence will weaken once it stops drawing energy from warm ocean waters, but it's still expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday as an extremely dangerous major hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center says a buoy about 100 miles northeast of Florence's eye has clocked hurricane-force wind gusts and sustained winds of 53 mph (85 kph).
Florence is the most dangerous of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
An official from South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources says officials are concerned about the potential for widespread flooding after Hurricane Florence's arrival, particularly in the northeastern part of the state.
The Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin, which starts near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and flows across the state, culminates in South Carolina's Winyah Bay, a coastal estuary near Georgetown.
Alvin Taylor said Wednesday that the area of concern includes the town of Nichols, a small community that experienced devastating flooding following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Associated Press 2018