Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches Southeast coast of the U.S.

NOAA  National Hurricane Center
Hurricane watches are posted for much of the South and North Carolina coasts and up to southern Virginia

NOAA National Hurricane Center Hurricane watches are posted for much of the South and North Carolina coasts and up to southern Virginia

Hurricane Florence is continuing to move west-northwest and is still forecast to hit North Carolina and SC, bringing destructive storm surges, rain, and wind. Combined with high tides, the storm surge could swell as high as 12 feet. More than one million residents have been ordered to evacuate from coastal areas of the three states, closing university campuses, schools and factories. Before it pummels the U.S. coastline, Florence could become close to a Category 5 storm - meaning winds could approach 157 miles per hour.

North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, said: "North Carolina is taking #HurricaneFlorence seriously, and you should too".

"Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different", Cooper said at a news conference. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said. "It's still a very unsafe storm and it's still a risky storm to the state of SC in all aspects, including Beaufort County".

Rain will overspread Virginia on Friday with tropical storm force winds possible on Saturday, especially across Southside Virginia. "A lot of local people are staying", she said of the island, which is reachable only by ferry or plane.

If the latest forecast holds, Florence will strike farther north on the East Coast than any other Category 4 hurricane in history.

If maps of Florence's trajectory are correct, it will become the most powerful storm to strike the Carolinas in almost three decades.

South Carolina State Veterinarian Boyd Parr has suspended some of the requirements for the interstate transport of animals to accommodate evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence.

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as four metres, Florence could dump 38-64cm of rain, with up to 90cm in some spots, forecasters said. Millions were expected to lose power, perhaps for weeks. While wind damage is still ordinarily covered, insurers that were stung by storms such as Sandy in 2012, which swamped NY and New Jersey, have inserted clauses in their policies that limit coverage and set high deductibles, particularly when storms reach hurricane status.

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"It appears a major flood event is on the way in the Middle Atlantic region", meteorologist Mike Smith said. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

President Donald Trump is canceling a campaign rally in advance of Hurricane Florence's landfall.

"We are sparing no expense".

"It does look a bit similar to Harvey in a sense that it goes roaring into shore and then comes to a screeching stop", said MIT meteorology professor and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel.

The storm was about 880 miles east of the Lesser Antilles - a region still recovering from last year's powerful Hurricane Maria. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm. Residents in all hurricane evacuation zones must evacuate beginning no later than NOON TUESDAY, SEPT. 11. Get to the grocery store. Many gasoline stations were running low on fuel.

"On the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale Florence is a Category 4, meaning "catastrophic damage" can occur". "What is flooding going to do to our home, our city?"

Florence is predicted to make an overnight landfall Friday west of Wilmington, NC.

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