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

  • President Donald Trump urged residents to heed orders to evacuate and said the federal government was "ready for the big one that is coming."

  • The storm looked likely to make landfall on the coast of North and South Carolina but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

  • South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County.

WILMINGTON,

Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday packing winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) as an emergency management official warned the monster storm would deliver a "Mike Tyson punch" to the Carolina coast.

President Donald Trump urged residents to heed orders to evacuate and said the federal government was "ready for the big one that is coming."

NO GAMES

"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. "We'll handle it. We're ready, we're able.

"But despite that, bad things can happen when you are talking about a storm this size," he added.

Florence is currently a Category 4 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and is forecast to slam into the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday.

Up to 1.7 million people are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents were frantically boarding up homes and businesses and hitting the road on Wednesday as the storm approached.

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

RIVER FLOODING

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet (3.9 meters) were also forecast in some areas of North Carolina along with the possibility of tornadoes.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast," said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"This is not going to be a glancing blow," Byard said at a press conference in Washington, warning of power outages, road closures, damage to infrastructure and potential loss of life.

At 11am (1600 GMT), the eye of the storm was about 485 miles (785 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving in a northwest direction at 15 mph (24 kph).

The storm looked likely to make landfall on the coast of North and South Carolina but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

STATE OF EMERGENCY

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