If you're fleeing Hurricane Florence and still don't know where you'll stay, there are people in surrounding states opening up their homes to evacuees. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Hurricane Florence
Florence inched ever closer to North Carolina's coast this morning in a slow march that'll continue to bring wind, rain and all sorts of destruction to the area. As of 4 a.m. ET, the Category 1 storm was about 30 miles from Wilmington, crawling at a snail-like 6 mph. Its winds were whipping at 90 mph. A storm surge 10 feet higher than normal was reported in Morehead City. There are reports of 150 people awaiting rescue in New Bern. Staff from a TV station there had to flee the studio due to rising floodwater. More than 180,000 homes and businesses have lost power in North Carolina so far. Landfall is expected later this morning.
• If you're in the storm's path and have a weak phone connection, use CNN Lite, which has text-only top stories (also in Spanish). And if you've lost your internet connection, you can still get offline chats and push alerts, if you download these apps now.
• Remember, it's the water, not the winds, that's deadliest.
• More than 1,300 flights have been canceled as Florence nears.
• And meet the "ride-out team" staying with the animals at the South Carolina Aquarium during the storm.
2. Super Typhoon Mangkhut
If Florence is a monster, then Super Typhoon Mangkhut is its bigger, stronger beast of an older sibling. Mangkhut will make landfall Saturday morning in the northern Philippines. Right now, it's the equivalent of Category 5 hurricane, but that's not a complete indicator of its power. At its peak Wednesday it was the strongest storm of 2018, with winds of 180 mph. More than 4 million people live in the storm's projected path; thousands are being evacuated.
3. Massachusetts gas explosions
One person was killed and at least 25 people hurt after a series of gas explosions in three towns north of Boston sparked fires that burned dozens of homes. Fires popped up seemingly at random in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence. "It looked like Armageddon," one fire chief said. The blazes left 8,000 people unable to go home. There's no official word on a cause yet, but a utility company had announced plans to upgrade natural gas lines in the area.
4. Paul Manafort
Looks like there may not be a second federal trial for Paul Manafort. The ex-Trump campaign chairman reportedly is close to a deal for a guilty plea with special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Jury selection in his trial, on charges related to his Ukrainian lobbying operation, was set to start next week. It's not clear if the deal means Manafort will cooperate with the Russia probe. Manafort was found guilty last month on eight bank and tax fraud charges in Virginia.
5. New York primaries
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to have easily beaten back a challenge from progressive activist and actress Cynthia Nixon. CNN projects Cuomo, seeking a third term, will defeat Nixon, of "Sex & the City" fame, in the Democratic primary and will face Republican Marc Molinaro in November. Meantime, New York City Public Advocate Tish James is projected to be the Democratic party's nominee for state attorney general. James, who was endorsed by Cuomo, would become the first black woman elected to statewide office in New York, if she wins in November.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico."
President Trump, publicly doubting the revised death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
Fly me to the moon
SpaceX wants to send a tourist on a trip around the moon, and it'll announce who that is next week.
The 100 senior citizens, fleeing Hurricane Florence, found themselves in a strange town. But they were welcomed by a wonderful letter from the police.
Revved up reboots
"Magnum, P.I." "Murphy Brown." "Charmed." They're all back on the air this fall. Now, a new "Designing Women" may be in the works. What year is this again?
Still casting a spell
The books and movies are done, but "Harry Potter" lives on -- on the internet, at least. Daniel Radcliffe doesn't (seem to) mind your meme obsession.
Quiz time (hurricane edition)
Tropical Storm Olivia made landfall this week on which Pacific island chain?
D. Solomon Islands
Play "Total Recall: The CNN news quiz" to see if you're right. And don't forget, you can also find a version of the quiz on your Amazon devices! Just say, "Alexa, ask CNN for a quiz."
it's the weekend, baby
The new remake (or is it reboot?) of "The Predator" is the big new offering in theaters, but CNN's Brian Lowry says it's a misfire. You can always stay home and prep for the Emmys by binging on "Game of Thrones" and "This Is Us."
Wet and wild
It was a close encounter of the wet kind when a humpback whale said hello to a boatload of tourists in Alaska. (Click to view.)
- Manafort, special counsel close to plea deal
- Paul Manafort and special counsel close to deal for guilty plea
- READ: Paul Manafort's plea
- Special counsel reveals potential witnesses in Manafort trial
- Paul Manafort could face more charges, special counsel says
- WSJ: Manafort sought plea deal before second trial
- WSJ: Manafort sought plea deal for next trial
- Special counsel court filing reveals new bank fraud allegations against Manafort
- READ: Paul Manafort's response to allegations he lied to the special counsel