Hurricane Florence threatens USA coast with 'vicious' winds, floods

Jodi Jacobson  iStock

People fleeing North and SC clogged coastal highways early Wednesday as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm, bore down on the USA east coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

As of 11 p.m., the storm was centered 280 miles (455 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).

As of 8.00am (1200 GMT), it was packing sustained winds of 130 miles (210 kilometres) per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Hurricane conditions will likely hit the area around North Carolina's southern coast on Friday, but tropical storm conditions will arrive on Thursday, according to the hurricane center.

Florence is expected to bring with it very heavy rain that has the potential to overflow rivers and produce flash flooding.

While many coastal residents heeded mandatory evacuation orders, others boarded up homes and businesses and chose to fearless the storm, which is forecast to trigger severe flash flooding as it dumps as many as three feet (almost a metre) of rain in some areas.

However, the NHC said that the center of this Florence will be moving all over the southwestern part of Atlantic Ocean which will be between Bahamas and Bermuda according to the NHC this natural event is going to take place in those two areas on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, however this will not stop there.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC, where some areas could see as much as 1 metre of rain, to Virginia. His state has already endured record rainfall, with much more forecast to come.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.

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Forecasters are predicting that Florence will make landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday as a slightly weakened but still unsafe Category 3 hurricane. It may drift around the South Carolina/North Carolina border for about 24 to 36 hours.

There are more than 20 million people facing the threat of the storm.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.

As a major hurricane heads for the East Coast, many supermarkets and food retailers are preparing for the storm.

If the forecast holds, Hurricane Florence will become the highest north on the East Coast that a Category 4 hurricane has ever made landfall.

"There's really no way it's going to move up here as a tropical system", NWS Spokesman Bill Simpson told Boston.com, adding that New Englanders can expect high surf, elevated sea swell and possible rip currents as a result of Hurricane Florence.

In the Charleston region, Walmart closed 10 of its outlets in the area at midnight on Monday after Gov. Henry McMaster issued an evacuation order for the coast of SC. "We are ready for the big one that is coming!"

Another 25 percent of deaths are related to rain, he said.

Communities could lose electricity for weeks, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said. The size of the storm and its expected staying power will make life tough for anyone who decides to try to ride it out (which is not a good idea). "We know there's probably going to be loss of power for a number of days".

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