'Monster' Hurricane Florence to pummel U.S. Southeast for days

'This is a big storm': Results could be catastrophic

Forecasts project the center of Florence to make landfall around the South and North Carolina border on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm ranked as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale and was expected to grow stronger and larger over the next few days, the NHC said.

The storm is also expected to trigger "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding & significant river flooding over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states from late this week into early next week", forecasters wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

The storm is so large, even central OH could receive rain from the system, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 miles per hour (63kph) would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's centre reaching the coast on Friday.

And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast". "What is flooding going to do to our home, our city?"

Tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles (280 kilometres) from Florence's centre, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles (110 kilometres).

A man runs past a mandatory evacuation sign before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2018.

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. The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations.

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More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas ahead of the storm because of both destructive winds and a storm surge that could place normally dry land under at least 10 feet of water.

The storm is expected to hit the Carolinas hard later this week.

He warned residents to take precautions "because once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you".

The storm's 175-mile (282 km) wide "cone of probability" suggests the storm will likely hit North Carolina's coast near Cape Fear, but storms fall outside the cone one-third of the time, according to The Weather Channel. Sharp added that some areas could see flooding where he hasn't flooded before.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

As residents of the region prepared by stocking up on essentials, officials called on them to evacuate to higher ground.

"This storm is a monster", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

The soaked ground and fierce winds could bring down trees and power lines and knock out electricity for weeks.

"The big picture: There are several characteristics of the changing climate that are helping to increase the risks of damage from Hurricane Florence, even though global warming is not directly causing such a storm to spin up".

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