Hurricane Florence on the horizon

Hurricane Florence on the horizon

Hurricane Florence on the horizon

More than 1 million people along the Carolina coast fled toward higher ground on Monday in a mass evacuation ordered three days before the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in almost three decades. "We are taking Hurricane Florence seriously".

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in flood-prone coastal areas beginning at 8 a.m. local time and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered more than 1 million residents along his state's coastline to leave starting at noon on Tuesday.

The US military said it was sending an advance team to Raleigh, North Carolina, to coordinate with federal and state partners.

Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.

Roy Cooper told a news conference his state was in "the bull's eye". "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster".

To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore.

At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state's barrier islands. NCDOT said the ferries would be aiding in evacuation.

Maps of Florence's trajectory showed its center most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina. Should Florence make landfall as a Category 4, it would be the first Category 4 hurricane since Hazel in 1954 to hit North Carolina.

It added that the maximum sustained winds were 90 miles per hour. A hurricane warning was posted for most of the Carolina coast north to the Virginia border.

Forecasts call for 10 to 15 inches (25-38 cm) of rain in the hardest-hit areas, possibly more if the storm stalls over land, as expected, Graham said.

Communities in Florence's path could lose electricity for weeks due to downed power lines and flooded equipment, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long said.

Crews also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

The governors of Virginia, Maryland, and North and SC have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

To show the size and power of the storm, a number of photos taken Monday from the International Space Station and astronaut Ricky Arnold show Florence's girth as the storm churns across the Atlantic Ocean.

"We are sparing no expense".

President Donald Trump, whose administration was harshly criticized as being slow to respond to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, canceled a political rally planned for Friday in Jackson, Mississippi, over safety concerns related to Florence, his campaign said. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

"We do not want to risk one SC life in this hurricane", Gov. Henry McMaster told a news conference. The Lowcountry and Coastal Empire is forecast to have breezy, offshore winds, mostly dry conditions and only modest water level rises Thursday and Friday.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions in places that don't usually get much tropical weather. "What is flooding going to do to our home, our city?"

In the village of Buxton, Liz Browning Fox plans to ride the storm out in her house on top of a ridge.

"Where else can we go?"

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said.

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