Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches USA coast

Chuck Burton  APSand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach N.C. Sept. 12 2018 as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast

Hurricane Florence is moving closer to the coast of North and SC, where it is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 120 miles per hour (193 km per hour), down from a peak of 140 mph a day earlier before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4. Hurricane Helene is veering toward Europe and newly formed Subtropical Storm Joyce is not expected to threaten land.

Residents near coastal areas have been given evacuation warnings, although Raleigh is a bit inland so Weaver and her family are going to remain at home to wait out the storm.

The Michigan-sized storm is set to linger for days and cause catastrophic flooding with up to four feet of rain and 13-foot storm surges.

He said the federal government and first responders are ready to assist, but that 'bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size'.

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". St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma a year ago.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. Executives in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

And now, the US Weather Prediction Center says 10million people on the east coast are expected to be placed under emergency advisories as the Cyclone barrels its way to the coast, with landfall expected today.

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More than one million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the USA, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas.

Officials in the potential path of Florence urged people to evacuate their coastal homes and directed drivers away from the coast.

Marshall: Well, if it does follow the path of come more toward Charlotte, when can we expect to see the greatest effect here in the Charlotte region?

Air Canada and Alaska Airlines have canceled their flights in and out of RDU on Thursday, but had not made any announcements about Friday as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The new trajectory means the storm will idle at sea for longer, creating even heavier and prolonged rains and storm surges for the Carolinas and possibly northern parts of Georgia.

"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew", the organization said in a statement that was circulated on Twitter. So we could have two landfalls - one around Wilmington and then one near Myrtle Beach or even south of there.

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