Over 1 million people evacuated from coast as Hurricane Florence bears down

Hurricane Florence Is Traveling A Similar Path As A 1933 Storm That Got Very, Very Close To D.C.

The decisions were made as Florence appears set to come ashore along the Carolinas' coastline late Thursday or early Friday with strong winds and heavy rain.

"Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!"

South Carolina's Governor Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation order for the entire coast of the state on Monday, including the closure of state offices and public schools in 26 counties.

State offices - including the University of SC - and schools also will close in 26 counties in the eastern part of the state Tuesday, McMaster said.

That means sustained winds of at least 130 miles per hour and expectations of catastrophic damage, the hurricane center says. Further south, from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, to Cape Fear could see 4 to 6 feet of surge and further north, from Cape Lookout to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, could see 5 to 8 feet of storm surge. The National Weather Service reported Sunday that more than 20 people had to be pulled from the ocean off Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, The Wilmington Star reported.

The first effects were already being seen on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway. If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

The storm's potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.

Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path.

Perhaps the worst-case scenario for flight schedules is if Florence stalls after moving on shore while blocking the busy flight routes along the Atlantic coast.

"Unfortunately, the models were right".

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"Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane through Thursday (Sept. 13)", said officials. "Storm Surge and Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday (Sept. 11) morning", said the NHC in the update.

Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast.

Before hurricane season ends on November 30, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects a total of nine to 13 named storms.

Forecasters say hurricane-force winds extend up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the center of Hurricane Florence, and tropical storm-force winds reach up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) from its eye.

"As I tweeted with Harvey last year.it is important to understand the potential one-two punch from Hurricane Florence", University of Georgia meteorologist Marshall Shepherd said. One out of every five South Carolinians, about 1 million in all, are in the evacuation zones covering eight counties.

"Based on that information, I have chose to order a mandatory evacuation of Zone A in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore", Northam said Monday.

The evacuations have prompted spot outages at gasoline stations, according to a spokesman for North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, but supplies have been quickly replenished.

It added: "The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds".

"You never know, there could be tree missiles coming from any direction", she said.

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