Hurricane Florence hours away from Carolinas

Hurricane Florence is gaining strength as it moves west

The National Hurricane Center says the outer rain bands of Hurricane Florence are approaching the coast of North Carolina. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast". It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves", the NWS report said.

"This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective", University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said.

"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said".

Even with some weakening that is predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

Its unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

The storm, which is estimated to be 40 miles wide, with tropical winds extending for around 350 miles, is projected to strike somewhere the North Carolina-South Carolina border late Friday afternoon.

The storm surge - often the most perilous risk to life posed by any hurricane - is expected to inundate areas along the coast with saltwater that's 9 to 13 feet deep, from Cape Fear, N.C., to Cape Lookout, N.C. Officials worry that as many as 1,000 of the town's 6,300 residents are staying in the town, which is less than 5 feet above sea level. In South Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

"We're talking about days, potentially weeks", Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said Wednesday night on CNN Tonight. As the storm moves inland, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland will also be in peril. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

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In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.

The storm's possible track now bends farther to the SW and closer to cities like Jacksonville, but it's the delay and the possible repeat of a Harvey-like storm cycle that has officials and weather forecasters anxious.

The Coast Guard said in a news release that the decision to stop port operations at 8 p.m. Wednesday comes because gale force winds of up to 54 mph (87 kph) were possible within 24 hours. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed".

Windows and doors are boarded up in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence September 12, 2018 in Morehead City, North Carolina. She packed up what she could and took a ferry.

"When that last ferry pulls out ... it's unnerving to see it pull away and know, 'That's the last chance I have of getting off this island, '" she said Wednesday.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye", German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".

Their entire neighbourhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.

Subtropical Storm Joyce, which formed in the North Atlantic Tuesday, is also not expected to hit the U.S. It is forecast to become a tropical storm in the next day or so while drifting to the southwest.

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