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Storm Florence is hitting North and South Carolina, and Virginia and weather forecasters warn of the risk of life-threatening flash flooding in parts of the states.

Florence has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm but continues to soak the East Coast area with rain, downing trees and damaging homes.

It is slowly grinding over the eastern states, with winds of 65mph.

Five deaths have been linked to the storm and thousands of people have been staying in emergency shelters.

Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region.

All five deaths linked to the storm are in North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence Sparks Evacuations in South Carolina and States of Emergency in North Carolina and Virginia

Florence originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning as a category one hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center said on September 14 that “catastrophic fresh water flooding” is expected in parts of both the Carolinas.

Some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges as high as 10ft in places.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was likely to “continue its violent grind for days” and described the severity of the downfalls as a “1,000 year event”.

Florence is expected to dump 18 trillion gallons of rainwater on US soil, meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted.

Almost 800,000 people are reported to be without power already in North Carolina, and officials have warned restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.

More than 20,000 residents have packed into North Carolina emergency shelters, and officials have told those still in the storm’s path to stay in place.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, officials had rescued more than 60 people overnight on September 13 from a hotel that was collapsing in the storm.

Parts of New Bern, North Carolina, which is home to 30,000 people, were 10ft underwater on September 14 after local rivers flooded their banks.

Scores of residents in the riverfront city were plucked to safety, local reports say.

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Pearl Jam have canceled a concert in North Carolina in protest against the state’s new law on LGBT rights.

The law, known as HB2, requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates.

It invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people.

Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have also scrapped their shows in protest.

In a statement, Pearl Jam said they “must take a stand against prejudice”.Pearl Jam cancels North Carolina concert

The law “is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens,” the statement on the band’s website said.

“The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound.”

Pearl Jam concert had been due to go ahead at the 20,000-capacity PNC Arena in Raleigh on April 19.

On April 18, Boston also canceled three shows scheduled for late April in North Carolina.

The law’s implementation has drawn ire from anti-discrimination campaigners, as well as companies including PayPal, Apple and Facebook.

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory is now seeking to roll back some of the measures included in the bill he signed, to protect LGBT rights, but not those relating to public toilets in schools and government buildings.

Last week, the singer Cyndi Lauper said she would not cancel her concert, and would instead turn it into “an entire day to build public support” to repeal the law.

Cyndi Lauper will be donating all profits from the show on June 4 to Equality North Carolina’s efforts to have the law reversed.

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Two teenagers have been injured in separate shark attacks in Oak Island, North Carolina.

A 14-year-old girl was mauled while swimming on June 14, while a 16-year-old boy was attacked on the same stretch of beach less than two hours later.

Mayor Betty Wallace told Reuters that the children had both teenagers lost their limbs as a result of their injuries.

A helicopter was launched to search for the shark.Oak Island shark attacks 2015

Betty Wallace said the girl was attacked shortly after 16:00 local time. A man swimming nearby heard her screams and came to her aid.

She was flown to hospital in Wilmington by helicopter but lost part of her arm and may lose a leg, Betty Wallace added.

The boy was attacked about two miles away on the same stretch of beach and also lost an arm.

Special patrols were launched along the shoreline, warning swimmers to get out of the water as crews searched for the shark.

Town officials will decide on June 15 whether to close the beach to the public.

“I don’t want everybody to think this is one of those areas where you really have to worry about shark bites. But for the foreseeable future, people have to be extra vigilant,” Betty Wallace said.

A previously unknown prehistoric crocodile, whose bones were found in Chatham County, North Carolina, several years ago, has been named Carnufex carolinensis.

Paleontologist Lindsay Zanno says she chose Carnufex carolinensis which is Latin for “Carolina butcher”.

“I thought it had a nice ring,” said Lindsay Zanno, a research professor at N.C. State University who also runs the paleontology and geology lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

“When I saw this animal, and when we reconstructed its skull, it was clearly an animal built for slicing flesh.”

The discovery of the Carolina butcher will be announced next week in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports and with a public presentation at the science museum in downtown Raleigh starting at 11 a.m.

The presentation includes an artist’s rendering of what the creature might have looked like, based on the few bones that were found and what’s known about its closest relatives.

This specimen was about 9 feet long and was probably a top predator, feasting on armored reptiles and early mammals found at the time, about 231 million years ago. This is the beginning of what’s known as the late Triassic Period, when what is now Chatham County was near the equator in a warm, humid environment of ferns and conifers.

Scientists know the age of the creature not from its bones but from the age of the rocks in which it was found, in a quarry more than a decade ago.

Photo Jorge Gonzalez/PA

Photo Jorge Gonzalez/PA

Museum curator Vincent Schneider found the bones mostly encased in rock and brought them back to the museum, where they remained a mystery for years.

Lindsay Zanno said Carnufex appears to be a missing link between creatures that stood on their hind legs and had skulls that resembled a Tyrannosaurus rex and later ones that moved around on all fours, like present-day crocs and alligators.

Scientists won’t know for sure until someone finds Carnufex’s hind limbs, but the animal’s small forelimbs suggest that it walked on its hind legs, Lindsay Zanno said.

The Carolina butcher is the second new ancient crocodile ancestor found near Raleigh and identified at the science museum in as many months. Last month, Appalachian State University geology professor Andrew B. Heckert announced the discovery of a new kind of aetosaur from the late Triassic Period with a distinctive ring of armor plates around its neck.

More than 500 bubbling methane vents have been found on the sea floor off the US east coast, researchers say.

The unexpected discovery indicates there are large volumes of the gas contained in a type of sludgy ice called methane hydrate.

There are concerns that these new seeps could be making a hitherto unnoticed contribution to global warming.

The scientists say there could be about 30,000 of these hidden methane vents worldwide.

Previous surveys along the Atlantic seaboard have shown only three seep areas beyond the edge of the US continental shelf.

The team behind the new findings studied what is termed the continental margin, the region of the ocean floor that stands between the coast and the deep ocean.

In an area between North Carolina and Massachusetts, they have now found at least 570 seeps at varying depths between 50m and 1,700m.

Their findings came as a bit of a surprise.

“It is the first time we have seen this level of seepage outside the Arctic that is not associated with features like oil or gas reservoirs or active tectonic margins,” said Prof. Adam Skarke from Mississippi State University, who led the study.

More than 500 bubbling methane vents have been found on the sea floor off the US east coast

More than 500 bubbling methane vents have been found on the sea floor off the US east coast

The scientists have observed streams of bubbles but they have not yet sampled the gas within them.

However, they believe there is an abundance of circumstantial evidence pointing to methane.

Most of the seeping vents were located around 500m down, which is just the right temperature and pressure to create a sludgy confection of ice and gas called methane hydrate, or clathrate.

The scientists say that the warming of ocean temperatures might be causing these hydrates to send bubbles of gas drifting through the water column.

They do not appear to be reaching the surface.

“The methane is dissolving into the ocean at depths of hundreds of meters and being oxidized to CO2,” said Prof. Adam Skarke.

“But it is important to say we simply don’t have any evidence in this paper to suggest that any carbon coming from these seeps is entering the atmosphere.”

This research, though, does highlight the scale of methane that is under the waters.

Estimates suggest that these undersea sediments are one of the largest reservoirs on Earth, and contains around 10 times more carbon than the atmosphere.

Prof. Adam Skarke and his colleagues estimate that worldwide, there may be around 30,000 of the type of seeps they have discovered.

They acknowledge that this is a rough calculation but they believe that it could be significant.

While the vents may not be posing an immediate global warming threat, the sheer number means that our calculations on the potential sources of greenhouse gases may need revising.

The scientists also found abundant life around many of these seeps, but not perhaps as we know it.

The creatures they describe are termed chemosynthetic, meaning they derive energy from chemical reactions and not from the Sun as do photosynthetic organisms.

Others who have collaborated on the search for seeps say these discoveries are important.

“These are significant geochemically, as they and our research teams found perhaps one of the largest seeps yet discovered with very active methane bubbling and large amounts of frozen hydrates,” said Prof. Steve Ross, from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

“These seeps are also significant biologically, as we have found unique chemosynthetic communities, huge range extensions and increased biodiversity.”

As to the energy potential of these new seeping sources, Prof. Adam Skarke is fairly pessimistic.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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By 9 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Arthur had weakened to Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds around 90 mph and additional weakening expected, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane Arthur has weakened to Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds around 90 mph and additional weakening expected

Hurricane Arthur has weakened to Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds around 90 mph and additional weakening expected (photo NBC News)

The storm was moving northeast Friday morning after turning slightly west late Thursday, which increased the threat to mainland communities from flooding, tornadoes and intense winds.

However, officials in some coastal areas in North Carolina reported few problems Friday morning.

Emerald Isle along the Bogue Banks posted on its website that the July 4th fireworks were still scheduled for Friday evening. The curfew also was lifted. Dare County officials said the northern end of the county, where Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, are located had reopened.

Hatteras Island on the southern end remained closed because of flooding on North Carolina Highway 12.

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Hurricane Arthur has made landfall in North Carolina, as thousands abandon their Fourth of July holiday plans.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, Hurricane Arthur made its landfall on the Eastern Seaboard late Thursday, after prompting thousands of residents and vacationers to flee the coastline in anticipation.

The first hurricane of the season, now a Category 2 storm, reached land between Cape Lookout and Beaufort at 23.15 local time, the US National Hurricane Center said.

At 2 a.m., the eye of the storm was moving up the west side of the Pamlico Sound.

Hurricane warnings were in place Thursday evening along the North Carolina coast up to the Virginia border, and tropical storm warnings were issued as far north as Nantucket Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Arthur is expected to bring dangerous surf and rip currents, torrential rain and power outages and extensive flooding in the Outer Banks.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, Hurricane Arthur made its landfall on the Eastern Seaboard late Thursday

Packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, Hurricane Arthur made its landfall on the Eastern Seaboard late Thursday

Strong winds had already caused thousands of outages Thursday evening in North Carolina, where Beaufort and Dare counties had mandatory evacuation orders in place.

But many were staying put and didn’t think the threat was a serious one.

Emergency officials warned that vacationers could become trapped by rising water if they don’t pay attention to warnings.

In Virginia, beachfront communities scrambled to prepare for the storm, as Arthur’s path moved westward. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are the areas expected to be hit hardest, but no hurricane watches or warnings were issued in the state.

Late Friday or early Saturday, Hurricane Arthur is expected to make its closest approach to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island.

But even those areas not affected by the hurricane’s strong winds and heavy rain may still be under rip current alerts, which have been issued all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Maine to Florida. Rip currents, which pull swimmers away from the shore, are responsible for 80% of surf rescues.

Hurricane Arthur put a damper on Fourth of July celebrations even before making landfall. Boston moved its holiday Pops concert to Thursday. Atlantic City, New Jersey, rescheduled its fireworks display for Sunday. Coastline cities in North Carolina, such as Surf City and Nags Head, either canceled or postponed their scheduled events.

Fireworks displays were also moved to the weekend in Ocean City, Maryland, and Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Thursday night’s Philadelphia concert was moved indoors, while Macy’s annual fireworks display in New York City is scheduled to take place July 4.

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Rick Ross has been released after his arrest following a North Carolina concert.

Rick Ross, 38, was taken into custody Friday night after the SuperJam concert, said Greensboro Police Department spokeswoman Susan Danielsen.

Rick Ross was taken into custody in North Carolina after a SuperJam concert

Rick Ross was taken into custody in North Carolina after a SuperJam concert

Susan Danielsen said a court had issued an order for his arrest because he failed to appear in court on a previous misdemeanor marijuana charge.

Rick Ross – whose real name is William L. Roberts – was taken into custody after his performance.

Susan Danielsen said the rapper was released on $1,000 bond.

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Seventeen people aboard HMS Bounty have abandoned ship off the coast of North Carolina amid Hurricane Sandy.

The captain gave the order for the crew to enter the lifeboats at 4:30 EST and a rescue attempt by a US coastguard helicopter is under way.

The HMS Bounty Organization said it would assess whether the ship could be saved but its concern was for the crew.

HMS Bounty is a replica of the original Bounty, famous for its ill-fated trip to Tahiti and the West Indies in 1789.

Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organization, said that the ship began to experience difficulties at about 18:30 EST on Sunday when it lost power and was unable to continue “de-watering”.

Seventeen people aboard HMS Bounty have abandoned ship off the coast of North Carolina amid Hurricane Sandy

Seventeen people aboard HMS Bounty have abandoned ship off the coast of North Carolina amid Hurricane Sandy

“At that time we contacted the US coastguard for assistance,” she said.

“A C-130 plane was sent to their position, which was 90 miles south-east of Cape Hatteras, and then at 04:30 EST this morning the captain ordered all hands to abandon ship.

“All 17 crew were accounted for in the liferafts and a US coastguard helicopter is on the scene rescuing them now.”

Tracie Simonin added: “As far as we know the ship is still upright and we’re going to assess the situation to see if anything can be done to save the ship but at this point our main concern is with the crew.”

Tracie Simonin said everyone on board was American.