Hurricane Florence closes in on USA east coast

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

"For a meandering storm, the biggest concern - as we saw with Harvey - is the huge amount rainfall", said Chris Landsea, chief of tropical analysis and forecast branch at the National Hurricane Center. For storm surge, people should evacuate, while for wind, they can stay in place in a strong structure as long as it's away from flood-prone areas, Knabb said.

People walk past storm shuttered buildings on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk in Myrtle Beach.

And the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said interests elsewhere in the Leeward Islands should monitor the storm's progress as additional watches could be issued this afternoon or evening.

Helene was located about 1,470 miles (2,370 km) south-southwest of the Azores, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km per hour), the NHC said.

Bridges, airports and ferry services in the affected areas face closure if winds grow too violent, while roads and rail routes might also be cut off.

Florence has it all: Hot ocean temperatures that fuel hurricanes.

More than 1 million have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

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The US president said he had spoken to governors of threatened states, adding that the "federal government stands by, ready to assist 24/7". Protection of life is the absolute highest priority and that's what we are doing. Eventually, Florence will veer north into the Appalachian Mountains, bringing soaking rains to Virginia and western North Carolina, before sputtering out late next week near DE and Maryland, the FWS reported.

"In a couple of days, while the wind shear could decrease over the east-central Caribbean Sea, there might not be much of a system left to take advantage of the more conducive conditions", the hurricane center said in its forecast discussion on Wednesday morning.

Jeff Byard, who is the FEMA associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, said that Florence is "a very risky storm", Fox News reported.

He said electric power could be out for weeks. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 miles per hour (55 km/h) with higher gusts.

Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it approaches landfall in the United States - but it is very slow moving and could linger the coastline bringing catastrophic flooding and heavy losses to insurers.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall". "I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down for a direct hit in the low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

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