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Hurricane Florence continues path to U.S. east coast

15 September 2018

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, "is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday night" and has triggered a hurricane watch for all of North Carolina and part of SC, according to the National Hurricane Center.

If Florence makes landfall as a Category 4 in North Carolina, it would be the strongest storm to come ashore that far north on record.

The latest projections from the hurricane center show the "cone of uncertainty" extending from roughly Georgetown, S.C., to Cape Lookout.

More than 5.4 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service, and another 4 million people were under a tropical storm watch.

Mandatory evacuations are underway in coastal areas of several states in Hurricane Florence's path.

"Also, most storms coming into the Carolinas tend to move northward, and this storm looks like it's going to stall over the region and potentially bring tremendous, life-threatening flooding", AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss said. "Now's the time to prepare".

Florence is packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, with gusts up to 160 miles per hour, the hurricane center said in its 11 a.m. ET update.

With little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence's hurricane-strength winds are expanding, reaching 40 miles from the eye of the storm, with tropical storm-force winds reaching up to 150 miles.

As of Tuesday morning, Florence was about 900 miles east of Cape Fear, NC., heading west.

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SC governor Henry McMaster said an estimated one million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound lanes of major routes reversed to ease the exodus. "It's still a very powerful, major storm that we have to take seriously".

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said his state is "in the bullseye" and urged people to "get ready now". "People are doing a pretty good job now".

They will make their final decision Wednesday, Terman said.

"This paper doesn't really say what we've had so far, if there's a trend", said Bhatia.

In North Carolina, the Tar Heels were set to play their first home game in Chapel Hill after two road losses.

Five sites slated for closing that are closest to the coast have lower water levels and "can hold significant rainfall", Erin Culbert, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

He said Congress would be generous with disaster relief funding. We're waiting it out now.

Trump said the storm will be "tremendously big and tremendously wet - tremendous amount of water". It will possibly weaken somewhat as it nears land - but that will hardly change the flooding threat.

Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130mph winds in 1954.

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Like his neighbors, Kingstree, S.C. farmer Atwood McIntosh is praying and preparing as Hurricane Florence approaches.

The center of the storm is expected to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and will approach the Carolinas by Thursday.

Plants in the storm's path are shut down about 12 hours in advance of being hit. The storm is expected to strengthen again over the next day or so.

People buy supplies at Home Depot ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall.

"Prolonged and exceptionally heavy" rains will also inundate parts of the coast and inland areas, the National Hurricane Center said.

- Overnight the storm shifted south. "This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding".

The storm is forecast to make landfall in the Carolinas as a strong Category 3 sometime late Thursday or early Friday.

The problem is, much of the Carolinas are already saturated from rainfall.

"The coal-ash sites are very vulnerable to this hurricane and any other", said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

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Large cities and towns that lie within the most threatened zone include Jacksonville, Greenville, New Bern, Morehead City and Kinston, says the center.

Hurricane Florence continues path to U.S. east coast