United States readies for 'big one' as Hurricane Florence approaches Carolinas

"We have also touched base with our vendors to ensure we are stocked up and prepared should any delays or shortages occurs as a result" of the storm", she said. But despite that, bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size.

Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes on the eastern seaboard in decades, and will bring a triple threat of risky storm surge, flooding and hurricane-force winds in parts of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

It covers North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, the three states facing the greatest potential for a Hurricane Florence landfall.

Several Horry County area communities are enacting ocean bans and curfews as Hurricane Florence moves closer to making landfall.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore, another popular beachfront destination.

Hurricane Florence, heading for the Carolinas, "will likely be the storm of a lifetime" for areas of the coast, according to the National Weather Service early Wednesday.

"This will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country".

Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC.

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The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states. "Wherever you live in North Carolina, you need to get ready for this storm now and you need to evacuate if asked to".

At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).

The category four hurricane is set to bring with it heavy rains and winds of up to 225 kilometres per hour.

As of Tuesday (Wednesday NZT), about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.

Beyond the Carolinas and Virginia, which were expected to bear the brunt of the storm, rain and flooding were expected through next week in certain parts of Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Coastal residents along the Carolinas encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared its coast with winds and drenching rain that could last for days. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

Forecasters say Florence is expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and dump 1 to 2½ feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

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