Hurricane Florence: Storm force winds for North Carolina within hours

A car drives through a road as it slowly begins to flood as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches on Tuesday Sept. 4 2018 in Dauphin Island Ala

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it is still being classed as extremely unsafe and life-threatening storm.

"Rail cars with vehicles destined for export from Charleston have been diverted to secure holding areas until the storm passes", BMW spokesman Kenn Sparks said. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky.

The slow-moving storm is expected to bring hurricane winds to America's east coast within 24 hours.

Forecasters say Florence, the first major hurricane to take direct aim at the USA mainland this year, could batter coastal areas with whipping winds, torrential rain and storm surges as high as 9 feet.

"The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas today, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday", the NHC said. "We've just never seen anything like this".

It is also a very large storm, with hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

BMW of North America has a plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, almost 300 miles (483 km) inland from the life-threatening hurricane's projected point of landfall on Friday, and automobile shipments were diverted.

"With Hurricane Florence, a lot of our line and equipment will be underwater". "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.

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

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Despite pleas from officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.

Ricardo Olivares, of Wilmington, North Carolina, covers windows at the Mellow Mushroom in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 11, 2018.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

As the trough moves east, it will disrupt the winds that steer the hurricane, Stewart said.

The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.

With South Carolina's beach towns 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.

Holly Waters, a retired special education teacher from Wilmington, said she was happy to have a place to go to relax before the storm worsened.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

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