'Time running out' for residents to escape Hurricane Florence

US Florence begins slow assault on Carolinas

US Florence begins slow assault on Carolinas

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., wrote Tuesday, "and that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew". "This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center said.

But forecasters have warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day - will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.

Cooper is saying: "Don't relax; don't get complacent".

The hurricane's immensity is why some 10 million people across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under storm watches and warnings, with meteorologists projecting Florence could become the most powerful storm to hit this part of the United States in at least 25 years.

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"We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever hit our country", said the president. Tropical storm-force winds are predicted to arrive by late Thursday morning or early afternoon. More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

Florence's hurricane-force winds were blowing 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached up to 195 miles (315 kilometers) from the eye.

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

The mayor of Myrtle Beach says her city has done as much as it can to prepare for Hurricane Florence. He's telling them they "better go ahead and give me your next of kin" information, because no one will rescue them at the height of the storm.

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Hours before a mandatory evacuation took effect, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, resident Phoebe Tesh paused while loading her auto to have a glass of wine on the steps of the house where she and her husband rent an apartment.

They say it remains very large and very risky, bringing more than 30 inches of rain to the coast and heavy winds that will impact a giant swath of land.

Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

The waves will meet resistance as Florence approaches landfall, but storm surges up to 13 feet are expected in some areas of North Carolina, according to the weather service.

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In addition, the threat of storm surges looms for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible. It's now predicted to make landfall near Wilmington and then head west across SC.

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