North Carolina feels first bite of mammoth Hurricane Florence

North Carolina feels first bite of mammoth Hurricane Florence

North Carolina feels first bite of mammoth Hurricane Florence

Florence is forecast to crawl up to the North Carolina coast late this week and turn slowly left - a development that would smash the Tar Heel State with life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain while also endangering a large portion of SC.

Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington states have all already declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

The impact of storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide. On North Carolina's Outer Banks, water flowed through streets and between beachfront homes, and some of the few people still left in Nags Head took photos of angry waves topped with white froth.

Gradually, Friday through the weekend (local time), the massive storm - containing a zone of tropical-storm-force winds almost 643km wide - will drift inland, engulfing much of SC and southern North Carolina.

By the time the storm leaves the region, forecasters expect it to drop 50 to 75 centimeters (19-30 inches) of rain in coastal areas, with some parts capable of receiving up to 100 centimeters (40 inches).

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The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.

He added: "This is a very unsafe storm". That could cause normally dry areas to be flooded by up to 4 meters (13 feet) of water moving inland.

However, a Cat 2 storm's wind speed is "extremely unsafe", according to the National Hurricane Center, capable of ripping trees from the ground, wreaking major roof damage on homes and causing power outages that may last weeks and affect three million households.

Businesses in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., prepare for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday.

Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. As Carolina officials are warning residents: leave, now, or else you're on your own.

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

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Warning the 10 million residents of America's Southeastern coast about Hurricane Florence, US President Donald Trump has said, "Don't play games with it". "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

Delta Air Lines added 1,200 seats as of Wednesday evening via extra flights and upsized aircraft in the storm's path to get people out of the area before Florence hits.

The massive storm is larger than North Carolina and South Carolina - combined, according to South Carolina Emergency Management.

The hurricane center is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 80 miles per hour before landfall, but with rainfall in the 20 to 30 inches range and up to 13 feet of storm surge.

"It's all going to be predicated on where the damage is at, in terms of how and where we deploy our resources", said Penn.

A long stretch of the US Eastern Seaboard remained vulnerable to hurricane and tropical storm conditions, from Georgia north through the Carolinas into Virginia. Hurricane Helene and Subtropical Storm Joyce were off in the Atlantic, posing no threat. Once projected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm with the potential to reach Category 5, forecasters now believe Flo will hold at least a Category 2 rating as it approaches land.

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About 300,000 people have been evacuated from South Carolina, McMaster said.

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