South Carolina Shuts Down and Evacuates as Hurricane Florence Expands

Hurricane Florence Threatens East Coast

Hurricane Florence Threatens East Coast

Map shows probable path of Hurricane Florence.

A Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour recorded in places, Hugo created storm tides as high as 20 feet, flooding the SC coast.

The category 4 hurricane is expected to make landfall in the USA late Thursday night, bringing heavy winds and up to 30 inches of rain.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swathe from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

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

To whip up a monstrous storm like the one chugging for the Carolinas you need a handful of ingredients - and Florence has them all. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster".

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions. To speed evacuations, officials in SC reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all major roads led away from the coast.

A Tiki bar sits empty with a message for Hurricane Florence on Topsail Island, North Carolina.

As of Tuesday morning, the storm is located 900 miles southeast of North Carolina's coast, and advancing at a relatively rapid speed of 16 miles per hour.

But NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen stressed the effects of Florence would be widely felt. The storm's track is now heading toward the North Carolina city of Jacksonville, about 50 miles north of Wilmington.

Forecast models have said that several feet of heavy rain could cause flooding well inland from the coast.

"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damaged, there will be homes damaged, and there will be debris on the roads", said Jeff Byard, an official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

One power station, Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick plant, the closest to the area where landfall is forecast, faced a likely shutdown as a precaution.

Thankfully if they do, it's highly unlikely that the winds will be hurricane strength. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for all three states, with Florence likely to bring widespread flooding and destruction once it arrives late Thursday or early Friday local time.

"We are sparing no expense".

It was the first major hurricane to hit the East Coast in 20 years, and the most intense since Hazel in 1954.

It may be a sunny, blue-sky day, with a hurricane still tracking days away, but in the lead-up to the storm, rip currents can still strengthen and pull people out to sea.

Days before its arrival, Florence was already disrupting commercial operations.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said an estimated 1 million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound Interstate 26 heading into Charleston and US 501 heading into Myrtle Beach reversed to ease the exodus.

Florence is forecast to make landfall in the same region as a much stronger storm.

Not everyone was in a hurry to leave.

"Our farmers and others in the pork industry are working together to take precautions that will protect our farms, our animals and our environment", said Brandon Warren, the pork council's president and a hog farmer.

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