People flee U.S. coast as Hurricane Florence nears Carolinas

Olivia satellite imagery. PC  NOAA  CPHC

As of 5 a.m. local time today (Sept. 10), Hurricane Florence was churning about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), making it a Category 2 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The Center also warned that "Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday".

Hurricane watches extend from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, northward to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday, a day after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) made a similar declaration for his state. "This hurricane has the potential to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and significant flooding when we expect it to make landfall between Thursday and Friday, and it may slow down inland and unload feet of water".

Henry McMaster (R) on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation of the state's coastline ahead of Hurricane Florence's expected arrival on Thursday. That Category 4 storm destroyed 15,000 buildings and killed 19 people in North Carolina.

There have been 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic at least 3 times in the last 9 years so this is not unprecedented.

Inland flooding will be exacerbated by the wet summer seen across several eastern U.S. states.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has also ordered a mandatory evacuation of students while the governor of Virginia has asked residents of low-lying coastal areas to leave.

Hurricane Florence's winds jumped up from 75 mph to 130 mph in just 25 hours, according to the Weather Channel.

Hurricane Florence has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, as it continues to swirl in the Atlantic Ocean and heads towards the Carolinas.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said all nuclear power plants in the area were preparing but that Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick and Harris plants in North Carolina were most likely to be affected and, if Florence turns north, Dominion Energy Inc's Surry plant in Virginia.

"Pretend, assume, presume that a major hurricane is going to hit right smack dab in the middle of SC and is going to go way inshore".

Forecasters have predicted as much as 20inches of rain in parts of North Carolina, which could cause potentially fatal flooding.

"Florence continues on a track to impact the USA mainland by Thursday or Friday".

"We've seen nor'easters and we've seen hurricanes before", Cooper said, "but this one is different".

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