Maryland Task Force One heads south to help prepare for Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence from space

Hurricane Florence is predicted to slam into the US's East Coast as an "extremely risky major hurricane" overnight on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 11:00 am (1600 GMT), the eye of the storm was about 485 miles (785 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving in a northwest direction at 15 mph (24 kph). One of the first major Atlantic hurricanes of 2018, Hurricane Florence is now under category 2 with max winds at 105 miles per hour.

Florence is now a Category 4 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and is forecast to slam into the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday.

The National Hurricane Center's latest model for Hurricane Florence shows a similar track that has been reported throughout Wednesday. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 20 inches (51 centimetres) - or even 30 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.

"Hugo was a direct hit", he said.

The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations.

On a conference call with media, David Fountain, the Duke Energy North Carolina President, said they were using predictive modeling in historical data to make their estimates.

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"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.

Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.

And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties. It had been projected to shift north after making landfall.

In Charleston, South Carolina, streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed.

"Historical rainfall amounts from #Florence are possible with UNPRECEDENTED flooding", according to the National Weather Service office in Newport and Morehead City, on North Carolina's coast.

She added: "The problem is, I can't tell you the exact pin point of landfall and it could be a long duration event".

The National Hurricane Center projects rainfall anywhere from 5 to 20 inches across SC.

And while the Carolinas prep for Florence tomorrow, there are others in the Atlantic - and a tropical storm near Hawaii - that also pose danger as 2018's Atlantic hurricane season reaches its peak.

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