"Monster" Hurricane Florence Aims to Drench Carolinas

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Then, as the high-pressure system steering Florence weakens, the hurricane is expected to hang out inland for days, showering the region with rain much like Hurricane Harvey did to Houston past year. After Florence's rain starts to fall this week, he said, the rainfall could continue through Monday.

The ocean waters that Florence is travelling over are about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"Due to impacts from Hurricane Florence, an evacuation order has been issued for coastal SC, including Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties, beginning at noon Tuesday, Sept. 11", a spokesperson for Boeing said by email.

As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

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).

The hurricane is expected to reach 150 miles per hour before landfall Thursday night.

Laws to combat price gouging are reportedly already in effect in North Carolina and SC, while motorists on the East Coast can expect to see gas prices spike this week due to Florence, according to AAA.

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In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000 which is located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change. Some of these reactors - including Duke Energy's Brunswick and Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina and Dominion Energy's Surry plant in Virginia - may be directly in the hurricane's path, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, McMaster said that emergency lane reversals - using all lanes of I-26 out of Charleston and Highway 501 near Myrtle Beach for westbound traffic - will cease on Thursday, two days after the measure was instituted.

If anyone left out there doubts Florence's sheer capacity to wreak havoc in the coming days, this NOAA satellite image (from former NASA scientist and Professor Marshall Shepherd) should do the convincing.

Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the eastern coast in decades.

"We ask you to heed the warnings - today is the day".

The lingering storm could bring days of heavy rains, which could spark intense floods from SC to Virginia.

"Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different".

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