MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) Hurricane Florence put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs Wednesday as the monster storm closed in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swath of the Southeast.
Florence's large size - tropical storm force winds extend 170 miles from the center in all directions - means its fury will arrive long before the center of the storm comes ashore, Graham said.
Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes.
Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it is still considered an extremely unsafe and life-threatening storm.
Amanda Kinseth, reporter for WPDE ABC 15 News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas early Friday. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said.
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In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".
More than a million people are under mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents frantically boarded up homes and businesses and hit the road as the storm approached. All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.
In Wilmington, the fire department is urging people to prepare for at least seven days of hardship, collecting water and nonperishable foods.
For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters. Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.
Satellite images show the storm has maintained a distinct eye and is well organized.
"Rather than a very narrow and intense band of winds, the winds are slightly weaker - but [they] cover a much larger area", NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said on Wednesday.
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Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles (315 kilometers) from Florence's center, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles (110 kilometers).
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
The shift in the projected track spread concern to areas that once thought they were relatively safe.
But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will stay at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding.
Higher sea levels to make a storm surge worse.
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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