Hurricane Florence Zeroes In On Carolinas, Bringing 130 MPH Winds

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Based on the latest 11 a.m. forecast for Hurricane Florence and acting on a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) officials, Gov. Nathan Deal issued Wednesday an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in Georgia.

Cooper said Florence was expected to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington.

People fleeing North and SC clogged coastal highways early Wednesday as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm, bore down on the U.S. east coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

Amanda Kinseth, reporter for WPDE ABC 15 News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"A motion toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday", the hurricane center says.

Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports. All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.

Abigail Darlington, covers the city of Charleston for the South Carolina Post and Courier.

States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.

For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters. For example, the seas off of Wilmington, North Carolina have risen 7.5 inches since 1935, according to NOAA.

The ocean waters that Florence is travelling over are about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways early Wednesday as Florence bore down on the coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

"The eye of Florence remains very distinct in infrared satellite imagery this morning". As the hurricane center says, "Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday, and move slowly through early Saturday".

Some areas are expected to see between 20 and 30 inches of rain through early next week in the area shaded in purple in the second image above.

A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or risky.

The hurricane could also produce heavy and excessive rainfall - up to 40 inches in isolated areas in the Carolinas and anywhere between 6 to 12 inches elsewhere in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic region. With that much size and strength, even a glancing blow could be devastating - something forecasters stressed as they noted the shift in the predicted track.

Speaking at a news conference, the official said the hurricane was expected to spread out into the Central Appalachian mountains, the Tennessee Valley, and southeastern parts of the USA after Saturday.

To back up that point, Graham cited a sobering statistic: "50 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge - and that's not just along the coast".

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