Still uncertainty as Hurricane Florences path moves south

Hurricane Florence is gaining strength as it moves west

Hurricane Florence is gaining strength as it moves west

President Donald Trump, warning residents to get out of the way, said the federal government was "ready for the big one that is coming".

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

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 unsafe rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Florence is forecast to dump up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's center reaching the coast Friday.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast". "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

Up to 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been given voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, according to emergency management officials, as the storm churned across the Atlantic Ocean towards the coast.


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

The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles. Three college football games with Top 25 teams have been called off: East Carolina at No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 15 West Virginia at NC State and No. 18 Central Florida at North Carolina.

Another FEMA spokesman said: "I need to re-emphasise this is a risky storm".

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. You never know, but we know.

"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989. "The water level will get a little high but we'll be fine". This storm is going to be a direct hit. "I was in the same house and it stood fine".

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing.

"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you". A crew from IL has already arrived in Greensboro, and crews from West Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Florida and Tennessee are also on their way.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimeters). The site lost enough material to fill around two-thirds of an Olympic-sized pool, the company said in a statement, adding that it did not believe the incident posed a risk to health or the environment.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, with Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique under a tropical storm warning.

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