Hurricane Florence Tracking South

Florence, now a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), was previously expected to travel north, up the North Carolina coast, after making landfall, according to the statement.

The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Florence was 435 miles from Wilmington, N.C., moving northwest at 16 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Millions of people on the East Coast of the United States find themselves in the path of a monster Category 4 hurricane that threatens catastrophic coastal flooding and damage in the billions of USA dollars.

The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it continues westward into SC and Georgia. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies.

With less than 48 hours before Hurricane Florence was forecast to reach shore, officials in the Carolinas were still pleading for residents to evacuate communities in the storm's path.

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. Florence could be the worst hurricane to hit the Carolinas in over 60 years since category 4 hurricane "Hazel" struck in 1954.

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Myrtle Beach's Ocean Boulevard was practically empty at midday on Wednesday, September 12, as the SC town prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house" in North Carolina, Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto. Most other beachgoers were long gone.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

"We have to be careful we're not asking them to come back to Beaufort County through a storm", he said. "You feel like you should have already left".

The hurricane centre is forecasting the storm to hover near the coast Saturday with winds of around 130 km/h before landfall, but with rainfall in the 50 to 75 centimetre range and almost four metres of storm surge.

"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

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