According to National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florence is expected to strengthen to a potentially Category 5 storm before it makes landfall somewhere along the South Carolina-North Carolina border.
The slow-moving storm, the most severe hurricane to threaten the USA mainland this year, was located about 785 miles (1,260 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), according to the NHC. Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared states of emergencies.
MILLIONS of Americans are preparing for what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the eastern seaboard in decades, with Florence on the brink of a Category 5 and barrelling towards the US East Coast.
The approaching storm also prompted commodity handler Cargill Inc to make plans to close meat processing plants in West Columbia, South Carolina, and Dayton, Virginia, on Friday. "This one is different".
Florence interrupted her stay on North Carolina's Outer Banks. As much as 10 to 20 inches (250-500mm) of rain is forecast from the Carolinas into Virginia as the storm stalls inland. The Category 4 storm was moving west-northwest at 17 miles per hour. "This is not an arcing storm, this is coming right in at 90 degrees, and those are the worst storms as far as keeping their intensity", explains WeatherBELL Meteorologist Joe Bastardi.
As of Tuesday morning, hurricane force winds were extending up to 40 miles from the storm's center and "tropical storm force winds" were showing up as far away as 150 miles, said the National Weather Service.
With winds now at 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm was a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and expected to get bigger and stronger, the NHC said.
That amount of storm surge would put Florence on par with Hurricane Fran.
But while wind speed offers an easily quantifiable way to rate risky storms, forecasters are warning people not to fixate on that, saying that saltwater from the storm surge and freshwater from heavy rains pose a serious threat, no matter what the top winds are when the hurricane makes landfall.
"We can not emphasize the importance to take action now", he said. Edisto Beach and all other areas ordered to evacuate are still ordered to do so.
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"It is an extremely risky, life-threatening, historic hurricane", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
North Carolina and UCF officials stated any tickets purchased through the respective school will be refunded automatically and as quickly as possible.
Life-threatening storm surges along portions of the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
"We have to be careful we're not asking them to come back to Beaufort County through a storm", he said.
A state of emergency has been declared in both North and SC. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House, adding that the administration would go to Congress for emergency funding.
And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.
The National Hurricane Center says a new report from an Air Force Reserve Unit hurricane hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Florence's top sustained winds have decreased slightly to 130 miles per hour (215 kph), with higher gusts.
"This is not going to be a quick hit across the coast", he said.
North Carolina's game against No. 18 UCF won't take place Saturday and Wake Forest's Thursday night matchup with Boston College will start two hours earlier due to Hurricane Florence.