Hurricane Florence seen from space is a 'no-kidding nightmare'

National Hurricane Center

National Hurricane Center

More than 1.5 million people have been asked to evacuate their homes along the Virginia, North and SC coasts as Category 5 storm Hurricane Florence approaches, an official said.

It's a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with 130 miles per hour (215 kph) maximum sustained winds. The majority of the storm surge and rainfall issues are expected to remain for southeast North Carolina down into Charleston.

The storm is expected to slowly move inland, battering much of the United States coast for days.

The storm is expected to bring tropical storm-force winds, life-threatening storm surges of seawater and 35 inches (89 cm) of rain to parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, where intense inland flooding was expected, the center said.

In a video message on Twitter, President Trump added: "Hurricane Florence is fast approaching, it's going to be here in the next 48 hours and they say it is about as big as they have seen coming to this country and certainly to the east coast as they have ever said".

A risky Hurricane Florence is steadily making its way to the U.S. East Coast. "A lot of local people are staying", she said of the island, which is reachable only by ferry or plane. These conditions could persist this weekend depending on the track of Florence.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The monster storm showed signs of slowing down as it inched closer to the US, according to the National Hurricane Center. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House.

The overall trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Subtropical storm Joyce formed in the Atlantic on Wednesday but is not expected to threaten land.

Privately, you may be wondering (and you wouldn't be alone): "What exactly is storm surge?"

As of Wednesday morning, 20 eastern North Carolina counties were under either a mandatory or voluntary evacuation, or some combination of the two, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland will also be in peril.

In South Carolina, traffic along parts of Interstate 26 and USA 501 has been directed away from the coast.

Smithfield Foods Inc said it would shut down the world's largest hog-slaughtering facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina, on Thursday and Friday due to the hurricane. Many areas in the low-lying city flood with routine rain storms, causing street closures and detours.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in North and SC, thus facilitating federal aid to those states.

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