U.S. capital under state of emergency, evacuation ordered

Mandatory evacuations issued for Outer Banks ahead of Florence

Florence is now a Category 4 storm, packing 130 mile-per-hour winds, according to an 11 a.m. update from the U.S. Hurricane Center, and it may soon re-strengthen to near Category 5 levels.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect Tuesday in three USA states as forecasters and officials urge people to get ready for devastating winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Florence.

The storm threatened to hit coastal North and SC with 130 mile-per-hour (215 kph) winds and massive waves when it makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned. Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the region of the Carolinas and Virginia late Thursday or early Friday.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have all declared a state of emergency and told residents to prepare for flooding and power outages.

Cooper and his counterparts in neighboring SC and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands.

Watches in effect Tuesday forecast a storm surge of up to 3.7 metres at high tide from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina.

The storm is expected to pose life-threatening risk from both its powerful winds and the epic, prolonged rain it is expected to dump over the course of a few days on coastal and inland areas extending potentially hundreds of miles in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic. But more than 10 inches is forecast for a larger area, including most of eastern North Carolina inland to just north of Richmond, Virginia.

The exact track, overall size and forward speed of the storm will determine which locations along the coast receive the worst of Florence's damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge flooding.

Before they were forced to evacuate, residents cleared supplies from store shelves and lined up to get gas. Extremely unsafe hurricane-force winds could batter coastal locations Thursday into Friday.

AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss said: "There's never been a storm like Florence".

Hurricane Hunter and aerospace engineer Nick Underwood captured the incredible video footage from inside Florence's eye, aboard the Lockheed WP-3D aircraft known as Kermit.

Last year, the United States was hit by three major hurricanes. This means the incoming winds of a hurricane like Florence, can pile water up with comparative ease. "That, folks, is extremely life-threatening". "Florence has rapidly intensified into an extremely risky hurricane", Blake wrote Monday evening that top sustained winds would approach the 157 miles per hour (253 kph) threshold for a worst-case Category 5 scenario.

"There's 25% more people living between Charleston (South Carolina) and Morehead City (North Carolina) than there were when Hugo was making landfall", CNN meteorologist Myers said.

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