Storm surges up to 3.9 meters (13 feet), the possibility of tornados and nearly a meter of rain in some areas of North and SC were expected when Hurricane Florence makes landfall late Thursday.
While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances. Its maximum sustained winds slackened slightly to 125 mph, qualifying it as a Category 3 storm, but its wind field has grown, with hurricane-force winds extending out 70 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds stretching as far as 175 miles from the storm's center.
"Between the lines: Hurricane Florence could become the strongest hurricane on record to strike so far north if it makes landfall north of the border between SC and North Carolina as a Category 4 or 5 storm. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.
"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. It had been projected to shift north after making landfall. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
A search-and-rescue team is being deployed by FEMA from Montgomery County in Maryland to help in SC as the area braces for Hurricane Florence.
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Florence will unload up to 40 inches of rain in parts of North Carolina.
Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations. "Areas in the path of this hurricanes could reach rainfall totals over 20-25".
The storm came ashore early Friday as a Category 1 Hurricane., pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds. You never know, but we know.
The storm is slowing down as it approaches land, and it is likely to linger over the Carolinas into the weekend.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Goes-East weather-monitoring satellite used its lightning mapping technology for a video showing Florence, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene as they traveled across the Atlantic on Tuesday. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.