Hurricane Florence: What storm surge could look like on East Coast

Jacob Harrelson and his wife Beth Harrelson install protective plywood on a local business in anticipation of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Wednesday

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

"But looking back at the forecast tracks for Hurricane Florence from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the ensemble members of the leading global forecast models a couple of days ago, what stood out was how relatively straightforward they were", RMS said. "There is probably not a county or a person that will not be affected in some way by this very massive and violent storm".

Duke Energy said Florence, a Category 2 storm, could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

"We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever hit our country", said the president. In coastal North Carolina, this could be 20 to 30 inches, isolated up to 40 inches in some areas, which could lead to catastrophic flooding. It's expected to bring tropical storm conditions and up to 5 inches of rain across the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

In its 1 a.m. Friday update, the NHC said Florence was about 45 miles east of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph.

Hurricane expert Dr Rick Knabb warns: "Yes good news that intensity of Florence has come down, to lessen wind damage somewhat".

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

The outer bands of the storm were already reaching the coast Thursday, bringing tropical-force winds and rain.

The mayor of Myrtle Beach says her city has done as much as it can to prepare for Hurricane Florence.

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The storm's centre was about 145 miles (235 km) east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as of Thursday night.

Accuweather reported that its meteorologists "believe that the hurricane will stall and meander near the Carolina coast from Thursday night to Saturday".

"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired non-profit director.

Wind: Expect winds to start increasing as early as Friday.

He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 130 km (80 miles) from the centre of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 322 km (200 miles) out.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.

"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.

And while the 2,000-plus cancellations from Florence is significant, it's far below what fliers have faced in other major storms.

According to NHC: "A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours". It's now predicted to make landfall near Wilmington and then head west across SC.

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