'Monster' Hurricane Florence aims to drench Carolinas | KYW

Hurricane conditions will likely hit on Friday, but tropical storm conditions will arrive on Thursday, according to the hurricane center.

Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that it would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".

Florence's winds in the afternoon were down slightly to 125 miles per hour (205 kph), from a high of 140 miles per hour, and the Category 4 storm fell to a Category 3.

Emergency preparations in the area included setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so that all major roads led away from shore and getting 16 nuclear reactors ready in the three-state region for the storm.

Hurricane Florence is now expected to head more directly west after making landfall, crossing through SC.

The hurricane center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast starting Thursday night before finally blowing ashore.

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Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday". At 8 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Wednesday the storm was located about 530 miles (855 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

Hurricane Florence's potentially devastating winds are generating enormous waves as high as 83 feet as it continues to make its way toward the East Coast and insurers predict it will become the costliest such storm to ever hit the continental U.S.

Satellite images show the storm has maintained a distinct eye and is well organized. Current forecasts call for Florence to be at least a Category 3 storm when it arrives at the Carolinas.

Rainfall totals from Hurricane Florence will top 20 inches in some areas, the National Weather Service says.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast, bringing days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC, where some areas could see as much as 40 inches (1m) of rain, to Virginia.

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and planned to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm.

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