The current forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for more than 20 inches of rain where the storm makes landfall.
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 480km ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath of states from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged. "If you are given an evacuation order, please comply immediately before roads get clogged and chaos commences".
The governor of neighbouring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County.
For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge: If Florence slows to a crawl, it could bring torrential rains all the way into the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions in places that have already experienced lots of rain recently. Highways will be converted to one-way evacuation routes away from the evacuation zones. That means high rainfall totals and consequent inland flooding could become a huge concern.
Trump approved emergency declarations for the Carolinas, a standard move allowing the release of federal funds and equipment to aid in protection and recovery efforts.
Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 1 to 2 1/2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 metres) of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. It may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.
The National Weather Service in Wakefield said this morning that Hurricane Florence is continuing to move toward the Carolinas.
Hurricane Florence continued its path towards the USA on Tuesday with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern regions, according to officials.
The US Navy was sending about 30 ships stationed at its major bases in Virginia out to sea.
A ideal storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence could deal a devastating blow to the Southeast. "It's going to be really, really bad along the coast". On Tuesday, rain halted his progress.
It's unclear when the UCF-North Carolina and West Virginia-North Carolina State games could be rescheduled after Hurricane Florence, if at all.
"This is a huge storm", said Robert Woodward, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners. I'm going to leave them in the ground and see what happens.
At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Helene and Isaac.
The storm is now about 950 miles from the Carolina coast line, but moving in that direction at about 15 mph.
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, with higher gusts.
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