AccuWeather Explains What to Expect from 'Monster' Hurricane Florence

Warnings Intensify as FEMA Says Florence

Warnings Intensify as FEMA Says Florence "Will Be a Mike Tyson Punch to Carolina Coast"

His announcement came after a Monday press conference in which he ordered all coastal counties in the state to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

"Dangerous Florence", as the official update calls it, is highly likely to bring with it life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic flash flooding, and damaging hurricane-force winds across vast stretches of SC and North Carolina. Then it is likely to hover along the coast on Saturday, pushing up to 13ft of storm surge. "Today the threat becomes a reality".

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2. Its hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the storm's center.

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday the storm was located about 855 km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

The storm is expected to make landfall early Friday morning near Wilmington, North Carolina. It's now predicted to make landfall somewhere north of Wilmington, N.C., before its center heads inland toward the cities of Raleigh and Durham.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City in North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia, to inbound vessels greater than 500 tons and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports.

"I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas", he said.

"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in", Cooper said. "People are doing a pretty good job now". Officials met Wednesday to discuss plans and monitor the hurricane. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. "I would say everybody should get out".

Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Authorities in New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people that dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people had to be rescued from floods. The center said the waves were measured by satellite.

"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach police chief Dan House said.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.

"An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft that was in the hurricane until just after midnight" recorded a peak wind gust of around 150 miles per hour, according to the hurricane center. Favorable conditions are also expected for much of the day.

There has been a dramatic change in the projected path of the first hurricane of the season expected to make landfall on the United States.

For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters.

At 11:00 AM, the National Hurricane Center (NHC)-which called Florence "very large and incredibly dangerous"-updated the hurricane's track, saying the storm path had moved slightly southward".

Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding. "This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding".

The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people.

The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

"Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls". Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 90 miles. If Florence weakens enough to arrive as a Category 3 storm, it would likely be near the upper limit of that classification.

Florence is rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

In addition to Florence, the Atlantic Ocean now has two other strong storms. Isaac could bring heavy rainfall to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

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