Hurricane Florence still poses grave threat despite weaker winds

‘Storm of lifetime’: Hurricane Florence barrels toward Carolinas as residents flee

Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all Georgia counties ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall.

Described as a monster, the eye of Hurricane Florence continues to grow.

Predictions now have the storm stalling and making a slight southward turn after it makes landfall.

It's a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with 130 miles per hour (215 kph) maximum sustained winds.

"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The center of the Category 4 Hurricane, still swirling with top winds of 130 mph (215 kph), was about 530 miles (855 kilometers) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, approaching the coast at 17 mph (28 kph).

The center of Florence, no longer classified as a major hurricane but still posing a grave threat to life and property, is expected to strike North Carolina's southern coast on Friday, then drift southwest along the shoreline before moving inland on Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami.

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Rather than pushing up toward western Virginia, the storm's center is now predicted to move across the middle of SC. Hurricane watches are in place around most of the SC coast, and tropical storm warnings were in effect in southern Virginia.

North Carolina officials evacuated long-term care facilities and hundreds of prisoners in vulnerable areas, and also closed state parks, museums and other attractions.

Hurricane Helene is heading north to open sea off the coast of the USA and now poses no danger to land after the storm hit cooler waters in the Atlantic. "Every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and take this storm seriously". Georgia is expected to see tropical storm-force winds and rain in some spots.

A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States, taken by cameras outside the International Space Station, September 12, 2018.

Motorists drive down I-40 westbound as the eastbound road is empty in advance of Hurricane Florence near Suttontown, North Carolina.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety", Deal said. Current forecasts call for Florence to be at least a Category 3 storm when it arrives at the Carolinas. It could potentially bring very heavy rain to Georgia as well as parts of the Mid-Atlantic.

While residents said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

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