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Thousands of Triangle residents started to see the lights go out as Hurricane Florence neared landfall early Friday on the North Carolina coast.
Across the state, more than 314,000 residents and businesses, mostly in eastern counties, were without power as of 6 a.m. Friday, according to online updates from Duke Energy, the N.C. Electric Cooperatives and smaller utility companies.
The wind and rain were starting to pick up just before 5 a.m. in the Triangle. Hurricane Florence could bring 32 mph to 45 mph winds Friday, Durham County emergency management officials said on Twitter. The Triangle area is under a flash flood warning until 8 p.m. Sunday.
“Flash floods often come with no warning and often cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides,” Durham officials posted on Facebook. “Flood waters are very dangerous. Do not try to walk or drive your car through them. “
In Wake County, 7,959 Duke Power customers were in the dark, along with 795 customers in Chatham County, 859 in Orange County, and 1,111 in Durham County. Several dozen electric co-op members also were without power in Chatham, Orange and Durham counties.
Several million people are expected to lose power by the time Florence sloshes its way through the state. Although the storm was downgraded to Category 1 before landfall, it still brought a dangerous risk of strong winds and hazardous flooding.
Duke has said it could take several weeks to fully restore power in areas that are inaccessible due to flooding. The company said as many as three-fourths of its 4 million customers in North Carolina and South Carolina could lose power.
Coastal counties were the hardest hit Friday morning, with Charlotte-based Duke reporting more than 103,000 outages in Carteret, Craven, Pamlico, Onslow and New Hanover counties. The co-ops listed more than 74,700 outages in the same general area.