U.S. capital under state of emergency for Hurricane Florence

Mandatory evacuations issued for Outer Banks ahead of Florence

As of the 5am update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts 160-170 miles per hour.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and on its current path the eye of the storm will pass near Wilmington and the southern beach towns.

As one of the nation's foremost experts on storm surge, he warned that if Florence hits at high tide, it could pose serious risks to property and life for any low-lying areas along the coast as well as along any inlets.

SC also will receive federal assistance after President Donald Trump approved a federal emergency declaration for the Palmetto State. Now is the time to get prepared to make sure your family is safe. Trump tweeted, adding: "WE are here for you".

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper described the storm as "a monster". Governors in North and SC have declared states of emergency, and President Donald Trump has authorized federal funding and resources to assist with preparation for the storm.

Florence catapulted from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane over the span of several hours.

McMaster yesterday said as many as a million people could leave the coast.

The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as risky rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway - the harbinger of a storm surge that could wipe out dunes and submerge entire communities.

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National Hurricane Center says swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.

The governors of North and South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia declared states of emergency ahead of the approaching storm.

"This is going to produce heavy rainfall, and it may not move very fast".

"I'm telling them to go inland, but I'm anxious about the rain and tornadoes too", Roberts said.

"Storm surge" refers to the dome of water which hurricanes sweep up and over the coastlines they impact.

As of Tuesday morning, hurricane force winds were extending up to 40 miles from the storm's center and "tropical storm force winds" were showing up as far away as 150 miles, said the National Weather Service. Quite simply, for those coastal areas, what's being predicted is the literal onset of meteorological and oceanographic hell, which is why its essential those in the area follow evacuation orders-especially on barrier islands, many of which were formed by past hurricanes-and GET OUT! Storms become a hurricane when they reach 74 miles per hour.

Although the focus on where Hurricane Florence makes landfall is drawing lots of attention, another looming threat could be the worst impact of this monster storm: disastrous, deadly flooding from days of relentless rain.

Airlines, including American and Southwest, have started letting passengers change travel plans that take them into the hurricane's possible path. "This is going to be catastrophic in parts of eastern North Carolina". But even the most secure homes could be surrounded by water, or penetrated by wind-launched debris. So the land can't absorb much more water. "I don't know where to go from here", she said.

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