'It Wants to Get Stronger': NOAA Hurricane Hunter Flies into Florence

Florence UPDATE for Friday landfall North Carolina

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane watch area Thursday and Friday", the NHC said.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and unsafe rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

As of 11 a.m., the potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm was centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, moving at 15 mph (24 kph) with winds of 130 mph (215 kph) and enough moisture to dump feet of rain on the region.

"We've had our lessons".

"Today's the day", Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperilled Georgia, too.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. The first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63 kph) were forecast to hit the coast on Thursday.

As Florence closed in for the worst strike on the area in decades, President Donald Trump and state and local officials urged residents in the path of the storm to evacuate before it is too late.

"He was thinking of coming here until this morning, and now he asked me if I wanted to come up there", he said. The researchers continuously track the hurricane as it makes landfall to collect data on the storm's speed, intensity and structure.

The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it continues westward into SC and Georgia. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.

"Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick and I have been in constant contact throughout the week about the game", Tanner said.

"Water, generators, all the people here, we have everything we need", he said.

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. Most other beachgoers were long done.

According to analytics firm CoreLogic, the hurricane could wreak more than $170billion (£130billion) in havoc and damage almost 759,000 homes and businesses. "Also, a little creepy".

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