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Hurricane Florence: Americans warned "don't bet your life on riding out a monster" as time runs out

Mirror logo Mirror 12/09/2018 Chris kitching

(Provided by PA)

Americans living in the path of monster Hurricane Florence are running out of time to flee before the "storm of a lifetime" makes a direct hit on the East Coast.

Florence is on track to make landfall near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, threatening to bring 140mph winds, a deadly 13ft storm surge, days of heavy rain and catastrophic flooding.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper gave a dire warning to those thinking of riding it out, saying: "Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster."

About 1.7 million have been ordered to evacuate their homes in three states, and warnings or watches along are affecting areas with more than 5.4 million people.

water next to the ocean © Credits: Getty

Florence - one of three named storms churning through the Atlantic - is expected to make landfall on Thursday night or Friday morning (local time), but the first outer bands of rain could arrive on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in the UK).

It could make landfall twice, based on the projected path. The storm is forecast to first hit near Cape Fear, North Carolina first, before it hugs the coast and ploughs into South Carolina.

Weather conditions will rapidly deteriorate as the hurricane, packing 140mph winds, spins closer to the coast.

a group of people walking on a sidewalk © Credits: REX/Shutterstock

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and South Carolina and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall.

There are fears the storm could stall and hammer the region with torrential rain for days, leading to life-threatening floods.

© Credits: REUTERS

As much as 35ins of rain is possible in some places as Florence moves inland.

Those who choose to remain in their homes have been warned they could become trapped by floodwaters and they may have to wait a long time before it is safe enough for them to be rescued.

It is likely that the storm will knock out electricity to thousands of homes and businesses, and some of the outages could last days or weeks.

a close up of a map © Credits: NHC

Governor Cooper issued one of the most dire warnings to date, urging people to leave and get out of the storm's way as it grows larger and stronger.

He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain."

a person with graffiti on the side of a building © Credits: AFP

The National Weather Service has said it will likely be the "storm of a lifetime" for those in its path.

Despite the warnings, some residents have decided to stay put and take their chances.

© Credits: Getty

Kathleen O'Neal, a resident of Ocracoke Island in North Carolina's Barrier Islands, said she, her husband and son would ride out the storm.

She told Reuters: "A lot of local people are staying."

Residents have been boarding up their homes, stocking up on food, water, generators and other supplies, and topping up their vehicle's tanks with petrol amid fears that there could be a shortage in the wake of Florence.

Shelves at many supermarkets had been stripped bare and many petrol stations were running low on fuel.

© Credits: SIPA USA

Emergency shelters have been set up for those unable or unwilling to flee.

Hospitals have transferred patients to places that are expected to avoid the hurricane's wrath, and a number of major factories have been closed.

Federal officials have faced blame after a number of devastating hurricanes in recent years.

However, US President Donald Trump said federal resources are "totally prepared" as he signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Credits: AFP

A state of emergency has also been declared in Washington, DC.

Trump faced severe criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico, where some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

National Hurricane Center maps of Florence's trajectory showed its centre most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina - very close to the border with South Carolina - but the giant storm is set to wreak havoc in a number of states.

Forecasts show tropical storm-force winds extending nearly 300 miles across North and South Carolina and Virginia.

It is expected to stall as the centre moves inland towards Georgia.

a close up of a map © Credits: NHC

The region's 16 nuclear reactors have been prepared for the storm. The Brunswick plant, located near the coast, faced a likely shutdown as a precaution.

The last Category 4 hurricane to plough directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.

Two other named storms - weakening Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene - are spinning in the Atlantic.

Isaac's eye is forecast to move across the central Lesser Antilles and into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday.

Gallery: Hurricane Florence barrels towards Carolinas (Reuters)

The National Hurricane Center said: "Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 60mph with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is forecast during the next few days."

Isaac's tropical storm-force winds extend up to 105 miles from the centre.

Helene, meanwhile, is out over open water, but it could brush the Azores as a tropical storm at the weekend.

It is expected to make a turn towards Europe as it weakens.

A fourth storm could become a tropical depression over the western Gulf of Mexico later this week.

Gallery: the biggest hurricane the year you were born (Photo Services)


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