Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

Bracing for Hurricane Florence | Don't Miss This

In addition to inundating the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 13 feet (4 meters) along the Carolina coast, Florence could dump 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain, with up to 40 inches in parts of North Carolina, the NHC said. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely unsafe.

Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Hurricane Florence is churning towards the USA east coast, prompting authorities to order more than a million people to evacuate the path of the extremely risky storm, which forecasters said could soon intensify.

Florence is forecast to move slowly over the Carolinas after making landfall Thursday night or Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"In most hurricanes, we worry about our line and equipment being blown down to the ground", said Pettit.

But the hurricane's sheer size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day, according to weather forecasters.

Oddly, the closer Hurricane Florence gets to land the murkier its future gets. "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said. The slow forward motion means Florence will batter the area with heavy rainfall, producing up to 40 inches in coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC.

Computer models anticipating the path of the storm are varied, adding to the uncertainty. Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

"It certainly is a challenge forecasting precise impacts when its exact track won't be known until a day in advance", Landsea said: There's "a huge difference" in the size and type of damage Florence inflicts if it stays 50 miles (80 kilometres) off shore versus heading inland immediately.

Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday on Wednesday as the town appeared to be emptying.

She said: "Helene is moving up from the Atlantic towards us". Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.

Forecasters are anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners.

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. "You feel like you should have already left".