Millions brace themselves as Hurricane Florence approaches US coast

Millions brace themselves as Hurricane Florence approaches US coast

CAROLINA BEACH, North Carolina (CNN) - Officials in the potential path of a still fierce Hurricane Florence had a stern, clear message for people still in coastal towns under evacuation orders.

As of 5:00 am (1100 GMT), Florence was a unsafe Category 4 hurricane packing sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The latest rainfall projections warn of 20-40 inches of rain from coastal North Carolina into northeastern SC - amounts that could bring "catastrophic flash flooding", the hurricane center said.

"Today is the time to get your preparedness actions complete", he said.

Speaking in the Oval Office alongside Trump, FEMA administrator Brock Long said Hurricane Florence may be a "very devastating storm".

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center showed Florence as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour.

More than 1.5 million people have been told to flee their homes as Hurricane Florence barrels toward The Eastern seaboard.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperiled Georgia, too.

"We can't expect this storm to blow over in a matter of hours".

And in the path of where Florence is expected to make landfall, Gordon Reddick - also a hurricane veteran of Bertha, Fran, Bonnie, Hanna - believes he can wait out yet another storm.

Florence will likely strike the East Coast with life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and massive inland rainfall flooding. Florence has weakened a bit over 24 hours, but it's also grown even larger - and it will likely dump torrential rain over North and SC through Monday.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. The aircraft are four-engine turboprops, created to not only survive in storms but also study them.

The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 63 kph were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday.

People in areas vulnerable to a unsafe hurricane have left or are fleeing ahead of the storm's expected Friday or Saturday landfall. The governor added that a million or more people could be evacuated before the end of the storm.

One trusted computer model, the European simulation, predicted more than 115 cm in parts of North Carolina.

"He was thinking of coming here until this morning, and now he asked me if I wanted to come up there", he said.

"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said.

North Carolina has had this problem before.

Emergency preparations included activating more than 2,700 National Guard troops, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Most of Georgia is included in a cone of possible impact from the powerful storm, which has been downgraded to Category 3 but that is expected to cause significant damage as it moves off the Atlantic Ocean.

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