A category 4 hurricane with winds of up to 130 miles per hour is directed to the Carolinas, bringing a risk of storm surges and life-threatening rains.
The Hurricane The center of Florence should land somewhere near the border between North and South Carolina on Saturday mornings, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), although the intensity of the storm will be felt at starting from Thursday afternoon and evening. The NHC issued hurricanes and storm warnings for coastal areas between the South Santee River in South Carolina and Duck, North Carolina.
Powerful waves and water walls are expected to enter the hinterland when the storm comes, bringing catastrophic floods. The North Carolina reef islands, from Cape Fear and Cape Lookout, could see the biggest wave of storms: between 9 and 13 feet.
"It is predicted that Florence will be a great hurricane extremely dangerous when approaching the coast of the United States," said the National Center of Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Much of the rest of the Carolina coast, from the border with Virginia to Edisto Beach in South Carolina, is under hurricane and the storm is raging. According to the NHC, Florence is expected to slow down considerably on Thursday and Friday, which means that it will probably sit on the Carolinas over the weekend, beating the area near the shore in the rain.
"If you've been asked to leave, go out," said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a briefing of the oval office, Tuesday afternoon.
President Donald Trump echoed Long's concern.
"You must listen to your local authorities," Trump said from the Oval Office. "You have to listen and go out, because once the storm hits, it will be really bad, and almost impossible to get permission to help."
Read more: Here is a map of all the areas that could be affected
Florence is about 485 miles south-east of Wilmington, North Carolina, and it's moving northwest to 15 mph.
The hurricane could flood low islands off the coast of North Carolina, such as the Outer Banks and other barrier islands, according to the prediction of the "probability cone" of the NHC. Heavy rain can extend to Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, although gravity will depend on the storm track, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The NHC also said that the effects of the storm – including rain, high winds, peak currents and tides – would most likely be felt outside the "probability cone" and could extend hundreds of miles from the center of the storm.
In North Carolina, the evacuations were ordered in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks, as well as other coastal counties, according to The Observer. Orders are for approximately 250,000 residents.
"Everyone in Dare County is encouraged to evacuate as soon as possible regardless of set times," the County Emergency Management Agency said Monday.
On Wednesday, the governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, at a press conference warned residents: "The disaster is upon us, if you're on the coast there is still time to go out safely".
The storm could leave tens of thousands of flooded buildings and many homes without energy for days, he said.
"It could be a marathon, not a sprint," added Cooper.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster revoked evacuation orders for three of the four coastal county counties on Tuesday. Some schools and offices have been closed in Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, according to The Post and Courier.
The governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of the lower coastal areas of the state. These orders extend to approximately 245,000 people in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton and the east coast. The Virginia authorities have dubbed this area "Zone A", the highest priority evacuation zone.
"This is a serious storm and will affect the entire state of Virginia," Northam said Monday night, for a local branch of NBC.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also declared a state of emergency before the storm Monday night.
The last forecast of Florence
Florence is currently a Category 4 hurricane, which means it has wind speeds of 130 to 156 mph.
"This is a life-threatening situation," the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday. "There is the danger of potentially lethal flooding, from rising water moving inland from the coast in the next 36 hours".
Predicting the routes of the hurricanes is a difficult science, and there are still uncertainties on the runway of this storm. But if the forecasts allow it, the center of Florence could land in South Carolina, just south of the border, Saturday morning. Hurricane Hugo, the last storm of strength similar to hit the area, was in 1989.
Read more: Astronauts in space have just seen all 3 The threatening hurricanes lurking in the Atlantic Ocean
below shows the probability that an area that will see winds of at least 39 mph. The area in purple corresponds to a probability of 90% or higher to experience such bursts.
Heavy rain is expected
Florence's hurricane is expected to slow down on the Carolinas and Virginia, where rainfall totals could reach 40 inches .
Lazy hurricanes or stalled – like Hurricane Harvey, which flooded the marshes of Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast last year – can become even more dangerous when they cling, pouring rain .
Read more: The 13 Most Important Things You Should Do to Prepare a Hurricane
These types of slow-moving hurricanes are becoming more frequent. Recent research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that storms decreased by an average of 10% compared to land between 1949 and 2016. Over the same period, the global average temperature increased by 0.5 degrees Celsius. (The warmer air can retain more moisture, allowing slower storms to produce heavier rains.)
Two more storms are shaking # 39; Atlantic.
The tropical storm Isaac is located about 450 miles east of Martinique, with a sustained wind speed of 60 miles per hour. The NHC has issued a tropical storm warning for the islands of Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.
Hurricane Helene has a wind speed of 90 miles per hour, but it is not close enough to land because any clocks or warnings are in place.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Olivia is heading for Hawaii with winds of 85 miles per hour. This storm is expected to hit the islands on Wednesday morning, according to the NHC.