Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Florence threatens millions on US East Coast

Hurricane Florence threatens millions on US East Coast

Closing in with terrifying winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge, Florence is expected to blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the National Hurricane Center said.

More than 1.5 million people living on the US East Coast have been ordered to leave their homes as Hurricane Florence heads towards them.

As of 8 p.m., the storm was centered 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

The NHC stressed, however, that while a slow weakening is expected over the next 24 hours "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the United States coast late Thursday and Friday". More than 2,000 Florida utility workers were also sent to help restore power after the storm hits.

"It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

An estimated 10 million people live in areas expected to be placed under a hurricane or storm advisory, said Marc Chenard of the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week.

Saturday's scheduled game between SC and Marshall has been canceled.

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SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal says the state "is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".

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

He said Wednesday it was imperative that locals heed evacuation warnings and that the time to flee Florence is now.

Fox News reported that sustained winds were picking up a bit along the North Carolina coast. The researchers continuously track the hurricane as it makes landfall to collect data on the storm's speed, intensity and structure.

"Everyone who is staying here is either a real old-timer, someone who doesn't know where would be better, or someone involved in emergency operations one way or another", said Fox.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

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