Hurricane Florence seen from space is a churning monster

As of 5:00 am (1100 GMT), Florence was a unsafe Category 4 hurricane packing sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It isn't that Florence's winds aren't a big deal - they are likely to be extremely unsafe and produce deadly flying debris - but there's going to be a potentially historic amount of rainfall inland and powerful storm surge along the coast. Water temperatures are running in the middle 80s and very little wind to tear it apart. Florence doubled its wind speed from Sunday to Monday, and the National Hurricane Center expects the storm to strengthen again on Tuesday. It is expected to meander over the coast, amplifying the precipitation threat.

This means catastrophic floods could follow if the hurricane stalls inland.

"It is an extremely risky, life-threatening, historic hurricane".

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 140 miles per hour (225 kph) winds and drenching rain that could last for days. "Storm surge watches are in effect in these areas - hurricane watches are in effect for coastal South Carolina, North Carolina".

President Donald Trump on September 11 declared states of emergency for North and SC, to open avenues for federal aid.

One trusted computer model, the European simulation, predicted more than 45 inches in parts of North Carolina. The litany of weather models vary in where they take the storm, with some going west-southwest and others going northwest.

"If you ask a Guardsman, 'Why did you join the Guard, ?' they will tell you, 'This is why I do this, for my community", said McCarty.

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In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 13 feet (4 m), Florence could dump 15 to 25 inches (38 to 64 cm) of rain, with up to 35 inches (89 cm) in some spots, forecasters said.

Earlier, President Donald Trump said that the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Hurricane Florence as it heads toward the Eastern Seaboard. Florence is being speculated to be the most intense hurricane to hit the area in close to 30 years, since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

The North and SC coasts are on high alert as residents brace for Hurricane Florence's brutal lashing. She grew up on the island chain, and says this will be only the second time she's evacuated.

Two other storms were spinning in the Atlantic. Shear is bad for hurricanes, which basically act like enormous chimneys, Cline said: They draw in huge amounts of moist air from the ocean's surface and then vent that air out of their tops.

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.

Florence's tropical storm-force winds extend 275 kilometres from the storm's centre, but its hurricane-force winds extend 95 kilometres from its centre.

In Virginia, mandatory evacuations began Tuesday for about 245,000 residents in a portion of the Eastern Shore area.

A Tiki bar sits empty with a message for Hurricane Florence on Topsail Island, North Carolina.

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