Florence is forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the US coast of North Carolina or SC in the on Thursday and Friday.
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.
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But its slow march over the two states, crawling west at only 3 miles per hour (6 km per hour), is expected to leave large parts of the region deluged in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Saturday. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches (100 centimeters).
Port of Wilmington, North Carolina, extended operating hours for trains and trucks to clear cargo containers from the complex.
"We lost power at home so we figured we should come to the bar", said Carla Mahaffee, a 33-year-old actor from Wilmington, as she drank a cider.
Wind shear continues to take a toll on the storm, and computer models think that shear will stay on the moderate to strong side for the next few days.
Florence could threaten the largest rainfall event in US history, Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 whirlwind that settled over Texas and dropped more than 60 inches of rain, turning roadways into rivers, destroying homes and buildings and killing almost 90 people.
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"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", according to NHC.
"It's a very risky storm", Federal Emergency Management Authority administrator Jeff Byard said.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The storm was centred about 835 miles (1340 kilometres) southeast of Bermuda and moving west at 7 mph (11 kph). Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
Bridges, airports and ferry services in the affected areas face closure if winds grow too violent, while roads and rail routes might also be cut off.
In addition to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, five military bases and half a dozen nuclear power plants are also in the path of the storm.
"This is probably the only exercise I get this week", she said.
Interestingly, the Atlantic Ocean housed three hurricanes at the same time, that before Tropical Storm Isaac being downgraded from its former hurricane status.
By Friday morning Florence had already sapped power to almost 450,000 customers in the Carolinas, emergency officials said. Rains have been relentless, and Florence continues to dump a "catastrophic" amount of water in its path.
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Governors of those states have already declared states of emergency, as have the governors of Virginia and Maryland. Emergency workers monitor hurricane progress at the Emergency operations centre in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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Mayor Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN traffic out of the SC city has more than quadrupled as residents and visitors evacuate. The outer bands of the storm were already reaching the coast Thursday, bringing tropical-force winds and rain.
For a swath of the North Carolina shore from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, the storm surge could range from 9-13 feet, the NHC said. The landfall location is expected to be between Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina . "He lives in North Carolina".
The latest forecast models for Hurricane Florence indicate it is now likely to dump rain on parts of NY and CT early next week. It is looking more likely that the CSRA could see wind and heavy rain from the storm this weekend into early next week.
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Dolphins swimming in flood water caused by Hurricane Florence
It is not know if the dolphins came into shore to find shelter from the storm or if they were dragged in the the high winds. In New Bern, the unsafe conditions prompted officials in the coastal city to place the city under 24-hour curfew at 7 a.m.
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