Hurricane Hunters flying into Florence as it heads for the Carolinas

Stunning Footage Captured From Inside The Eye Of Hurricane Florence As It Heads For Land

The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties.

"Get out of its way, don't play games with it, it's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen", Trump said. "But you know, when the storm comes you still need to evacuate, because you can't outrun the surge".

The evacuations continued as Florence weakened a bit in its charge towards the East Coast, downgrading from a Category 3 storm to a Category 2, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

Many coastal communities that are expected to be impacted by the storm provide live streams of the surf.

Florence is forecast to dump up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.

The footage was captured by one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Hurricane Hunters, planes given whimsical nicknames that chase down storms - "Kermit" and "Miss Piggy".

Federal Emergency Management Agency associate administrator Jeff Byard said: "This is not going to be a glancing blow".

At 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour, and was slowly drifting westward over SC.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid.

As the hurricane became larger and better organized Tuesday afternoon, mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

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The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles. In a recent ranking, Millerick's institute found South Carolina's rules to be among the most up to date among hurricane-prone states.

"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house", Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto.

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing.

"Not much has changed since this morning", meteorologist Chris Fisher from the National Weather Service said.

"I rode out Hugo", Miller said of a 1989 hurricane that caused widespread damage. "The water level will get a little high but we'll be fine. It's sort of like having 33 weather stations out in the middle of the ocean", said flight director Richard Henning. "We have everything. We're ready".

"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in", Cooper said. "We love you all, we want you safe".

And it led to mixed signals from officials in SC, whose governor had canceled mandatory evacuation for several coastal counties.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, but neither packs the deadly punch of Florence.

By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 20 inches (51 centimetres) - or even 30 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.

The predicted amount of rainfall that Florence will bring to the southeast.

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