1 million-plus ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Florence nears Carolina

1 million-plus ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Florence nears Carolina

1 million-plus ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Florence nears Carolina

Carrying winds of up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Florence is expected to approach Category 5 status on Tuesday as it slows and strengthens off North and SC.

After making landfall, the storm is predicted to drift slowly over land, sitting over the North Carolina-South Carolina border for around a day, losing power as it travels.

"Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" Governors in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have issued mandatory evacuations and lane reversals.

An estimated 250,000 more people from the northern Outer Banks were due to be sent to higher ground starting at Tuesday midday.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said his state is "in the bullseye" and urged people to "get ready now". The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.

The hurricane center's description of a Category 4 hurricane begins with "catastrophic damage will occur". In the six decades since then, many thousands of people have moved to the coast.

The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over the road.

"I'm scared we'll get 30 inches or more of rain", said Carol Trojniar, 69, a longtime Wilmington resident and retired real estate agent who has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane.

"This is going to produce heavy rainfall, and it may not move very fast". SC emergency management officials said they were "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

Authorities also warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding across several states, especially if it lingers inland for several days.

The storm's potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 30C, hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote.

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It added that the maximum sustained winds were 90 miles per hour.

"Unfortunately, the models were right".

"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday", the NHC said in its latest bulletin. Tuesday morning's forecast still supports this, the National Hurricane Center said.

The largest US Marine Corps base on the East Coast, Camp Lejeune and its extensive beachfront northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, lie within the NHC's forecast "cone" for possible landfall.

Its centre will move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the coast of SC or North Carolina on Thursday, the National Hurricane Centre said. "The last Atlantic hurricane to intensify as rapidly as far north as Florence's current location was Hurricane Humberto in 2007", he said.

As of noon Hurricane Florence was deemed a category 4 hurricane which is one of the strongest hurricanes of this season.

The auto park has been full for three days at the Ace Hardware store in coastal Calabash, North Carolina, where manager Tom Roberts said he sold 150 gas cans in two hours Monday, along with generators, plywood, rope, manual can openers, sand bags and a plethora of other items.

"I think this is very Harvey-esque", said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's evacuation order applies to about 245,000 people, including parts of the Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore. North Carolina has ordered the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of its Outer Banks barrier islands.

Oosterwyk was gathering tax documents and other important papers from her store on Monday, and said she planned to drive 150 miles inland to ride out the storm in the town of Cary.

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