'Big and vicious': Hurricane Florence closes in on Carolinas

Hurricanes Florence Isaac and Helene moving through the Atlantic

Hurricanes Florence Isaac and Helene moving through the Atlantic

Now a Category 4 hurricane packing 140 mile-per-hour winds, Florence is due to make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas late Friday or Saturday.

Mandatory evacuations have begun in three states, with more than 1.5 million ordered to leave their homes as Hurricane Florence, packing winds of 220km/h, is expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday.

Businesses and homes in the storm's path were boarded up and thousands of people had moved to emergency shelters, officials said, urging anyone who remained near the coast to flee.

While Florence is expected to strengthen as it approaches the Carolina coast, the storm will weaken before it makes landfall.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have declared emergencies. "That means the more trees that could fall, the more power outages", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

All signs pointed to a stronger, slower, wider and wetter hurricane in the days ahead, forecasters said.

"It's still going to be a major hurricane when it arrives along the Eastern Seaboard of the southern U.S.at the end of the week", said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax.

The storm is now 845 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

The hurricane watch notice is significant because it signals the opening of a 48-hour window for the expected first arrival of tropical storm-force winds.

In addition to Florence, the Atlantic Ocean now has two other strong storms. He also canceled campaign events Thursday and Friday in anticipation of the storm.

Residents along the coast in North Carolina, but also SC and Virginia have already been issued mandatory evacuation orders. For those not in the storm's direct path, officials are still warning about the residual high winds, heavy rain, and potential flooding.

Hurricanes nearly always set off an orchestrated dance on Wall Street before they make landfall, with shares of property and casualty insurance companies dumped in favour of companies that sell construction supplies or portable generators. "We go through a lot of these hurricane scares throughout the years", Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. Farmers will be using the next several days to prepare for the storm, he said.

Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast. By Monday, it was evident that the worst-case-scenario was becoming reality, as Florence exploded in strength from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 4 storm with winds in excess of 130 miles per hour. Before it pummels the USA coastline, Florence could become close to a Category 5 storm - meaning winds could approach 157 miles per hour. The forecast is for landfall to occur overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

Liz Browning Fox was planning to ride out the storm on the Outer Banks, defying evacuation orders. Last season, UCF was unable to play Georgia Tech after Hurricane Irma hit Florida.

Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stripping grocery stores bare of food, water and supplies.

SC lifted mandatory evacuation orders for three coastal counties as the storm's path became more certain.

However, Hubbard said Florence is not expected to have any impact on Canada, given its predicted track into the USA mainland, where it will likely weaken considerably on the weekend. He said electric power could be out for weeks.

"If we get more than 25 inches of rain, then we'll start to be concerned", he said.