Hurricane Florence is poised to affect more than 10 million this week in the southeastern U.S.
The eye of the storm is due to meet land near the border between North Carolina and SC on Saturday, according to the latest information from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Hurricane Florence neared Category 5 strength on Monday, forcing evacuations in coastal areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
"This is still a very unsafe storm", South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said at a Tuesday news conference.
Mandatory evacuations began to go into effect for coastal areas of North Carolina, especially the Outer Banks, on Monday, as the coast braced for heavy rains, storm surge and the potential for tornadoes.
The HuffPost reports‚ "televangelist Pat Robertson broke out a prayer that sounded more like a wizard's spell as he attempted to block the approach of Hurricane Florence".
The center of the hurricane was forecast to move between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday and approach the southeastern coast of the U.S. on Thursday as a Category 3 storm or higher, according to the hurricane center.
Up to 30 inches of rain could fall in isolated pockets across North Carolina, Virginia and northern SC through Saturday. Evacuations were happening along the coast of North and South Carolina, and the projected landfall was expected between Charleston, South Carolina, and Norfolk, Virginia. Charles Mullen, 81, a longtime resident of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, said he had ridden out many storms and that most locals were planning to stay unless Florence took aim at Hatteras.
In a 5 p.m. EDT update from the NHC, the storm's winds rose to 140 miles per hour, and it picked up speed in its westward track, doubling its speed from Sunday to 13 miles per hour. He said that the hurricane could only be captured on a super-wide lens, even from 400 kilometres up.
Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.
Florence could hit the Carolinas harder than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds in 1954.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said the carrier had capped fares in the region to prevent prices from spiking as travelers rushed to book seats ahead of the storm.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
The town of Bluffton said McMaster's order includes the evacuation and closing of hospitals and nursing home facilities.
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. "The threat will be inland, so I'm afraid, based on my experience at FEMA, that the public probably not as prepared as everybody would like", said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Isaac - which late on Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.
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