"‘Life-threatening’ Florence spawns first hurricane watches, could bring 30" of rain

Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC.

Hurricane Florence will approach the coast of North Carolina and SC on Thursday or Friday.

Classified as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, Florence was the most severe storm to threaten the US mainland this year and the first of its magnitude to target the Carolinas since 1989, when Hurricane Hugo barreled over Charleston, South Carolina.

Hurricane Florence - the most powerful storm to threaten the Carolinas in almost three decades - is expected to strengthen, say forecasters.

South Carolina's governor ordered the state's entire coastline evacuated starting at noon Tuesday and predicted that 1 million people would flee as highways reverse directions.

Other impacts, like potential rain, depend upon what Florence does after it makes landfall, the meteorologist said. "It's an extremely risky, life-threatening, historic hurricane. the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain". If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rain to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky conditions.

As one of the nation's foremost experts on storm surge, he warned that if Florence hits at high tide, it could pose serious risks to property and life for any low-lying areas along the coast as well as along any inlets.

When asked in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said the school district must first evaluate how many teachers and staff evacuated ahead of the order.

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The storm may weaken slightly before making landfall, but it could still hit land as a Category 4 or strong Category 3 storm.

Officials warn there is a chance of "life-threatening inundation from rising water" over the next 48 hours as Florence heads for the US East Coast. She said her house, built in 2009 in Buxton, North Carolina, is on a ridge and built to withstand a hurricane.

McMaster made the change as official projections show Hurricane Florence moving further north. "That, folks, is extremely life-threatening".

Hurricane Florence is picking up steam as it approaches the strength of a Category 5 storm.

Trump has approved emergency declarations for both coastal states, a standard move allowing the release of federal funds and equipment to aid in protection and recovery efforts. Hurricane force winds start at 74 miles per hour.

No coastal watches or warnings are now in effect.

Residents of the eastern United States - particularly the Carolinas and Virginia - are bracing for a hurricane, as Hurricane Florence gathers power while forming over the Atlantic.

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