Hurricane Florence was downgraded to Category 2 late Wednesday night but remained a clear danger to the East Coast with “life-threatening” storm surge and rainfall in the forecast.

As expected, Florence has slowed on its approach to North Carolina and South Carolina, where it’s expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, bombarding communities with torrential rain, high winds and deadly storm surge until Saturday.Hurricane winds could linger for 24 hours or more, sweeping away trees and power lines while dumping 20 to 30 inches of rain in some coastal areas, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Isolated totals of 40 inches are possible.Florence was driving sustained winds of 110 mph on Wednesday night and, earlier in the day, had created waves up to 83 feet, the hurricane center said, with the first tropical winds sweeping ashore before noon.The approach of Florence has put more than 10 million people under storm watches and warnings across three states.