Hurricane Florence's winds start to rake North Carolina coast

Hurricane Florence's winds start to rake North Carolina coast

Florence is forecast to crawl up to the North Carolina coast late this week and turn slowly left - a development that would smash the Tar Heel State with life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and inundating rain while also endangering a large portion of SC.

Tropical storm force winds are thought to be just hours away from making landfall in North Carolina.

Media captionWhy do people ignore hurricane warnings? "The global models suggest that this shear will relax today while Florence moves over warm waters, however, given the current storm structure, little overall change in strength is anticipated as Florence approaches the coast". Areas further from the coast could see 6-12in of rain.

The other threat for those living along the coast is the wall of water known as storm surge that the hurricane's winds and forward movement push on shore. That could cause normally dry areas to be flooded by up to 4 meters (13 feet) of water moving inland.

Hurricane Florence is now a category 2 hurricane, with winds of close to 110mph (177km/h).

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said: "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast late Thursday and Friday".

Businesses in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., prepare for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday.

Just as Hurricane Florence closes in on the Southeast, the area covered by hurricane-force winds has doubled - meaning far more people will get blasted with winds 74 miles per hour or greater.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

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Although the suggestive graphic was presumably an accident, it is somehow a fitting representation for a storm that has already been described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet" in a White House briefing from Donald Trump this Tuesday.

"We'll handle it. We're ready". "We can not underestimate this storm". "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

Early on September 13, NASA's Aqua satellite's infrared data showed the clouds in the southern quadrant of Hurricane Florence appeared warmer than storms throughout the rest of Florence.

Her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is at risk for flooding, and her family and nearby relatives will ride out the storm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's expected to move slowly over eastern SC on Friday night through Saturday night.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. North Carolina alone could get from 20 to 30 inches, with isolated spots possibly receiving 40 inches.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.

Once the rain hits the coast, it will accumulate very quickly, causing some flash flooding and eventually likely overwhelming streams and rivers in the areas that get the most.

But despite the drop in wind strength, the most unsafe threat comes from Florence's rains and storm surge, which could bring flooding far inland.

But what makes Florence so different from other storms this year?

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