Residents told to 'get out now' as Florence takes aim at Carolinas

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The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states. Reports from the Miami-based weather forecaster on Monday confirmed that the Florence is located about 1,880 kilometers southeast of Cape, however, Fear is now growing bigger in North Carolina.

"By late Thursday, a mid-level ridge is forecast to begin building over the east-central United States, which is expected to cause Florence to slow down significantly by 48 hours", the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday in its 5 a.m. ET update.

Florence is expected to bring with it very heavy rain that has the potential to overflow rivers and produce flash flooding.

The winds cover an area more than 53,000 square miles - which is larger than the entire state of North Carolina.

"While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size", the NHC said in its latest bulletin.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC, where some areas could see as much as 40 inches (1m) of rain, to Virginia. The storm's winds edged lower on Wednesday - but it has also expanded, putting more people at risk when it finally makes landfall.

Almost two million people in North and SC as well as Virginia were warned to evacuate by Tuesday night as hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area encompassing about 5.4 million residents.

By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 30 inches (76 centimetres) - or even 40 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said. It may drift around the South Carolina/North Carolina border for about 24 to 36 hours. More than a million people along the state's coast have been given evacuation notices.

Hurricane Florence is considered a Category 4 storm and one of the strongest storms on the Eastern seaboard in decades, with winds of 130 miles per hour.

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People line up to enter a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in North Carolina.

With the storm churning across the Atlantic with 140 miles per hour winds, hurricane watches and warnings include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast.

"Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday, and move through early Saturday", the NHC said. "Get food, water. Medications they may need".

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward.

Tecklenburg said his flood-prone city is preparing for "copious rain" by clearing out the city's drainage system and getting boats and portable pumps ready.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit", he added. "It goes well inland".

"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and planned to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm. "It's called Mother Nature". "We know there's probably going to be loss of power for a number of days".