'Monster' Hurricane Florence takes aim at U.S. Southeast

Tremendous’ people working on Hurricane Florence response Trump

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

At 11 a.m., the storm was located about 520 miles east of Myrtle Beach, S.C., moving northwest at 15 mph with 130 sustained winds, forecasters said.

Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (one meter) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and South Carolina Thursday night or Friday.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. It could stall just off the coast and then drift south along the SC coast and possibly make a landfall as a weaker system if it doesn't make it clearly over the coast of North Carolina.

The National Weather Service said about 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

"This is a life-threatening situation". Tropical Storm Olivia has made landfall in the Hawaiian islands, the Philippines are bracing for the powerful typhoon Mangkhut, and Tropical Storm Isaac is nearing the Leeward Islands.

He said he's going to spend Thursday with friends at a local beachfront restaurant and bar, and once the storm arrives, he'll watch it from his back porch.

After spreading rain westward to the southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas, torrential rain is forecast to reach parts of the northeastern part of the U.S. next week.

This same zone will be hammered by winds gusting up to hurricane force for almost a day while tropical-storm conditions could linger twice that long.

"As soon as a storm is about to hit, all traffic stops in and out of the area until the storm calms down and the roads are clear", she says. She says 61 shelters have opened thus far, including 12 that are specially outfitted to help people with special medical needs. The forecast track has the storm stalling along the coast throughout Friday and into Saturday.

The gradually slowing but still life-threatening storm is moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 kph).

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. A small-craft Warning means in this case that surface winds greater than or equal to 25 knots and/or seas equal to or greater than 3m (10ft) are already affecting or expected to affect the marine area.

For some residents, evacuation plans were hampered by gasoline shortages.

"And this is where I want to stay", Cook said.

"Hurricane Joyce is also in the Atlantic so we need to see how those two systems are going to move around each other because that could have an impact". It marks the beginning of a prolonged assault from wind and water, which - by the time it's over - is likely to bring devastating damage and flooding to millions of people in the Southeast.

Services and flights have been suspended on Thursday and Friday at Wilmington International Airport on North Carolina's coast.

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