Hurricane Florence: Storm force winds for North Carolina within hours

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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.

Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the Southeastern coast. "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge".

"Even after Hurricane Florence makes landfall, it's still forecast to just crawl west over SC, gradually weakening to a tropical storm", said FOX 46 Meteorologist Tara Lane. REUTERS/Chris KeanePeople walk past a boarded up building before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern — as we saw with Harvey — is the huge amount of rainfall", said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center. Areas further from the coast could see 6-12in of rain.

People in areas vulnerable to the risky hurricane, particularly those in coastal regions, have fled ahead of the storm. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

More than a million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

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According to ABCNews.com, the National Hurricane Center said Florence was moving northwest at about 12 miles per hour and located 170 miles southeast of North Carolina and about 220 miles southeast of Myrtle Beach.

The storm is not expected to change much in strength before making landfall.

This satellite image of Florence hurtling towards the east coast on Wednesday gives a sense of its massive scale. The entire coastlines of North and SC, in addition to some parts of southeastern Virginia, are under a mandatory evacuation plan.

Most of those cancellations are tied to the approaching hurricane, now a Category 2 storm with winds expected onshore late Thursday at more than 80 miles per hour.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina, and Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC.

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North Carolina resident Roberto Guzman carries belongings from his mobile home as he leaves Wilmington a day before the storm is due to strike. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely unsafe.

The full impact of storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide. But because the storm was so large it produced a destructive storm surge in New York City, and caused an estimated $65 billion in damage in the United States. The track also shifted somewhat south and west, throwing Georgia into peril as Florence moves inland.

A smaller hurricane dubbed Isaac is reportedly heading for the Caribbean, while Hurricane Helene - now also in the Atlantic - is forecast to track towards the UK. Florence has weakened a bit over 24 hours, but it's also grown even larger - and it will likely dump torrential rain over North and SC through Monday.

"It has moved in", said Jordan Baker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Wilmington. Localized higher amounts of up to 40 inches are possible.

Hurricane Helene is moving north, where it's expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday.

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