"United States readies for ‘big one" as Hurricane Florence approaches Carolinas

City taken by one of the Expedition Three crew members on the International Space Stati

As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.

Although slow weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is expected to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the USA coast late Thursday and Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane was about 470 miles (755 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach SC, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.

Last year's blitz of hurricanes was all the more unusual because the East Coast had enjoyed more than a decade of relative calm. Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency.

Emergency preparations in SC now include more than 2,100 of the state's National Guard soldiers. His state has already endured record rainfall, with much more forecast to come.

Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. The deadly storm surge, which will push ocean water into coastal communities, is at the top of everyone's mind.

The storm surge, or wind-driven seawater, poses a huge danger, FEMA Administrator Brock Long warned on ABC's "Good Morning America".

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The footage was captured on Monday, September 10, as the storm bears down on mainland U.S., first heading towards North Carolina but now possibly veering slightly more towards SC. That means more impervious surfaces - such as roads and rooftops - and less area for the floodwaters to go.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach, SC, to South Santee River, SC. In North Carolina, Cooper says, "2,800 soldiers will be on active duty, joined by even more on standby".

Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday (Sept. 13 or 14), likely as a Category 3 hurricane, meaning it will have winds blowing at a minimum of 111 miles per hour (178 km/h), Samson said.

Evacuation orders for low-lying areas were issued Monday and continued Tuesday.

On Wednesday, people across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town.

Forecasters have warned of life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic flooding, damaging winds, and unsafe rip currents along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding. In South Carolina and inland parts of North Carolina, 5 to 10 inches of rain could fall, with 20 inches possible in some areas.

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