Hurricane Florence is expected to being heavy rain and strong winds to the coasts of North and SC as early as Thursday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is forecasting.
Hurricane Florence is blowing sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour as it barrels toward the US's East Coast as a Category 4 storm.
Forecasters have warned of life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic flooding, damaging winds, and unsafe rip currents along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. It is expected to make landfall Thursday morning. "But even if you're in that west or south side of the storm you can see some rainfall".
Florence had maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (215 km per hour) and was on a trajectory that showed its center most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. When and where it will make landfall is unclear.
The path of Hurricane Florence could affect the homes of more than 5 million people, and more than 1 million of them have been ordered to evacuate.
The lingering storm could bring days of heavy rains, which could spark intense floods from SC to Virginia.
He warned people in surrounding areas to "remain vigilant" and expect flash floods at the start of next week.
As Florence closed in, some residents weighed whether to ride it out.
"Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said 59 shelters were either opened or will open by Thursday in his state and he urged residents in the areas expected to be hard hit to be vigilant".
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In Wilmington, Richard King, 64, said Wednesday that he, his wife and perhaps 60 of their neighbors planned to stay.
"We're a good community up there".
Masters said there's a tug-of-war between two clear skies high pressure systems - one off the coast and one over MI - and the more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. She packed up what she could and took a ferry Tuesday night. North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said crops such as tobacco and corn are in midharvest while sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans and cotton are still in the field.
"Just because we have a landfall to your south, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods, because the winds are huge around this system", NHC Director Ken Graham said, pointing out the wide risk of flooding.
Officials said traffic was moving well Wednesday though there have been two minor accidents in lanes where cars were traveling in the opposite direction from normal. Till now as many as 1.7 million people have evacuated the region.
At 11am local time on Wednesday (early Thursday AEST), the storm was located about 785km southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Maryland and Washington, D.C. have also both declared states of emergency.
With Hurricane Florence churning toward the East Coast, NASA released a stunning video and photos of the storm from space. NASA astronauts used a super wide-angle lens to capture the footage of Hurricane Florence, due to the massive size of it. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely". Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic from the south - and those usually curve safely out to sea.