Still uncertainty as Hurricane Florences path moves south

A North Carolina hog farm and its waste lagoon following Hurricane Floyd in 1999

A North Carolina hog farm and its waste lagoon following Hurricane Floyd in 1999

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP)- People who thought they were safe from the onslaught of Hurricane Florence began boarding up and Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday as uncertainty over the path of the monster storm spread worry along the Southeastern coast. The Triad has around a 50% chance of having sustained Tropical Storm force winds.

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Florence "will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast".

"We're still looking at the potential for heavy rainfall that could produce flooding", she said.

Hurricane Florence is on track to blast the southeastern USA coast with ferocious winds and rain, but it may also swamp hog manure pits and coal ash dumps, spreading their toxins; as well as inundate nuclear reactors in the region, according to news reports.

By Sunday, clouds from Florence will increase around here, with rain arriving by Sunday night into Monday.

Crews board up the Oceanic restaurant in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

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The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

A crew of about 80 rescuers from Montgomery County is headed to SC to help deal with Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning.

Experts predict that the storm could bring rainfall up to 40 inches and up to 13 feet of floodwater in some areas.

Then, as the high-pressure system steering Florence weakens, the hurricane is expected to hang out inland for days, showering the region with rain much like Hurricane Harvey did to Houston a year ago.

The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina and 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.

More news: Hurricane Florence becomes Category 1; outer bands lash coast, catastrophic flooding expected

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation order for all coastal SC counties on Monday.

"It doesn't look like it's going to weaken at this point", Flaherty said.

It will also pass directly over two nuclear power plants - the Brunswick Nuclear Plant, which is located 30 miles south of Wilmington, as well as the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, about 23 miles from Raleigh.

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward.

If anyone left out there doubts Florence's sheer capacity to wreak havoc in the coming days, this NOAA satellite image (from former NASA scientist and Professor Marshall Shepherd) should do the convincing.

Moreover, high tides around noon and midnight these next few days will make the storm surges even worse, Samson said.

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Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency invoked a former boxing champion to warn residents that Florence would bring "a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".

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