Hurricane Florence's uncertain track puts more than 10 million people at risk

A NOAA satellite image of Florence

NOAA A NOAA satellite image of Florence

As thousands evacuate parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia in preparation for a direct hit by the category 4 hurricane set to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, the National Weather Service Wilmington has issued a chilling warning, dubbing Hurricane Florence as potentially one of the most unsafe storms to hit the east coast in decades.

The eastern United States is in preparation mode as a "monster" Category 4 hurricane approaches the southeast coast.

Hurricane Florence is packing sustained winds of 140 miles (220 km) per hour and remains an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm as it approaches the USA eastern coastline, specifically the Carolinas. The latest forecast indicates that Florence could stall over or close to southeast North Carolina Friday, then could drift west or southwest this weekend. However, it is becoming more certain that Florence will bring a risky storm surge to the Carolina coast and life-threatening flooding.

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast.

More than 10 million people are under a storm watch or warning in Virginia and the Carolinas, where up to 40 inches of rain could fall. "A lot of local people are staying", she said of the island, which is reachable only by ferry or plane.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Goes-East weather-monitoring satellite used its lightning mapping technology for a video showing Florence, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene as they traveled across the Atlantic on Tuesday. Florence is expected to also be a rainmaker, with totals of 35 inches possible in some areas.

Trump said: "We are sparing no expense".

Some airlines will allow you to change your flights for free while waiving fees for baggage and pets or even offering refunds.

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Florence is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic.

If some of the computer projections hold, "it's going to come roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say, 'I'm not sure I really want to do this, and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland,"' said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground forecasting service.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

"A storm like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand".

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land.

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered evacuations in counties along the state's coast, including Charleston.

US President Donald Trump has authorised emergency measures to free up federal funds to help those responding to the storm.

"No one should enter the surf due to life threatening rip currents", said a statement issued Wednesday morning by the weather service. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

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