Things to Know About Hurricane Florence

City taken by one of the Expedition Three crew members on the International Space Stati

WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Beach communities in North and SC emptied out on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence threatened to unleash pounding surf and potentially deadly flooding as the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on the states in decades.

Shortly before 2 p.m. ET, Florence was 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., moving northwest at 16 mph, the National Hurricane Center says. Its maximum sustained winds are expected to top 145 miles per hour before it loses some steam near the coast.

Highways clogged with people fleeing North and SC early Wednesday as monstrous Category 4 Hurricane Florence rumbled toward the eastern United States as the biggest storm there in decades.

A tropical storm warning, indicating the expectation of conditions below hurricane-strength winds, is issued for coastal areas north of the Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Va., and in Chesapeake Bay, south of New Point Comfort, Va. Since the forecast may change as Hurricane Florence evolves, the NWS Boston said its offices are launching extra radiosonde balloons.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina, with 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says. The deadly storm surge, which will push ocean water into coastal communities, is at the top of everyone's mind.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.

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.

Some 7,000 guard members are ready to mobilize in North Carolina, while 1,100 will be activated in SC. In North Carolina, Cooper says, "2,800 soldiers will be on active duty, joined by even more on standby".

An estimated 10 million people live in areas expected to be placed under a hurricane or storm advisory, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.




If the forecast holds, Hurricane Florence will become the highest north on the East Coast that a Category 4 hurricane has ever made landfall.

There are more than 20 million people facing the threat of the storm.

Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps.

This means Florence could hover over the southeast states, pouring unsafe rainfall causing flash flooding and river flooding - some areas are forecast to get from 15 to 20 inches to 30 inches or more localized areas.

- Hurricane conditions are expected late Thursday night into Saturday morning.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit", he added.

"We'll handle it. We're ready, we're able, we've got the finest people I think anywhere in the world".

To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned. The size of the storm and its expected staying power will make life tough for anyone who decides to try to ride it out (which is not a good idea). "You never know, but we know".

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