Here's what the DC region can expect from Hurricane Florence

Two horses on a February day on the beach in Corolla North Carolina

Here's what the DC region can expect from Hurricane Florence

The path of Hurricane Florence could affect the homes of more than 5 million people, and more than 1 million of them have been ordered to evacuate.

Florence's hurricane force winds now extends 80 miles from the center, while the tropical storm force winds reaches almost 200 miles, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The initial rain bands of the storm will reach the coast Thursday morning where wind gusts will increase to between 40 and 70mph by late afternoon and evening.

"In light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

And if Florence weren't enough, other storms out there are threatening people. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster". The heaviest rainfall is still expected in South and North Carolina, with upwards of 30 inches of rainfall possible in some locations.

With South Carolina's beach towns now more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

"Floodwaters may enter numerous structures, and some may become uninhabitable or washed away", the Weather Service warned.

Though Florence has weakened slightly, it's still a very risky storm, and a life-threatening storm surge and rainfall are expected. His home, built 1 mile inland in 2016, is raised 25 feet off the ground and is built to withstand 140-mph winds, he said.

People in areas vulnerable to a unsafe hurricane have left or are fleeing ahead of the storm's expected Friday or Saturday landfall.

That system could develop into a tropical depression by Thursday night. "There were more messages on Facebook about the liquor store going to close early than warnings about the hurricane", he joked. Allison Jones said she's not taking any chances.

Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia.

The adults packed irreplaceable items such as photo albums and heirlooms while the children stuffed their favorite toys, blankets and books in their bags.

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"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. "I wish I had more time to sort through and grab more of the sentimental items". Waves off the shore of North Carolina have already gotten as high as 13 feet, he saYS.

"You put your life at risk by staying", Cooper said. As Carolina officials are warning residents: leave, now, or else you're on your own.

Residents along the coast boarded up their homes, lined up at gas stations and emptied supermarket shelves.

North Carolina farms are moving livestock to safety. From there, they headed to her father's home in Ohio.

"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said". "We've never left for a storm before". Practically, however, that won't matter when it comes to storm surge and inland rainfall.

"I've watched all the weather and read the local stuff", another resident said.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

The Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower, an old Coast Guard tower 32 miles off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, is broadcasting live with a solar-powered camera.

"Pets are not allowed inside Red Cross evacuation shelters", McMaster said.

Energy companies have also warned that the storm could knock out power for the foreseeable future in some areas.

The Hurricane Center forecasts that Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday.

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