'Monster' Hurricane Florence Barrels Toward the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence May Stall Off Wilmington, North Carolina

The hurricane is expected to make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas early Friday.

The National Hurricane Center's latest model for Hurricane Florence shows a similar track that has been reported throughout Wednesday.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina and 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways early Wednesday as Florence bore down on the coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely". In South Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways.

As the storm moves inland, forecasters warned, the surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia while schools and factories were being shuttered.

In addition to the dangers the expected deluge of water poses, the hurricane center cautioned, "A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina beginning late Thursday morning".

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"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.

For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper predicted tens of thousands of homes and businesses would be flooded in his state.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion.

She said it will become a "major flooding event".

It will also pass directly over two nuclear power plants - the Brunswick Nuclear Plant, which is located 30 miles south of Wilmington, as well as the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, about 23 miles from Raleigh. Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week. "The rain may last for days, and not hours".

The president made his comments in a videotaped message from the White House Rose Garden that he tweeted out on Wednesday morning.

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