Hurricane Florence latest warning: ‘DISASTER IS AT THE DOORSTEP’ Evacuations continue

Chuck Burton  APSand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach N.C. Sept. 12 2018 as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast

Chuck Burton APSand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach N.C. Sept. 12 2018 as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast

The category 4 storm carrying maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h would probably strike the southern coast of North Carolina by late Thursday or early Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Duke Energy officials say Florence will knock out power to an estimated 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC.

Nighttime winds have gone from 140mph (225kph) to 115mph (185kph), and further weakening is expected as Florence approaches the coast. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

"It's going to coming 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.

Oddly, the closer Hurricane Florence gets to land the murkier its future gets. State officials have said the inmates are safer in the prison than they would be in an evacuation. The Category 4 storm is likely to produce "catastrophic" flooding in the eastern Carolinas, as well as destructive winds. Because the storm was so strong earlier in the week, it built up a wall of water which will push inland as the storm surge.

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"We could maybe get some outer bands or very, very outer bands of the hurricane", said Jeremy Geiger, a weather service meteorologist.

Florence could do more than $170bn (£130bn) of damage and affect almost 759,000 homes and businesses, says analytics firm CoreLogic.

Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (815 km)".

Randall Hill / Reuters Lisa Evers (Foreground) and her daughter Amanda Hamilton, both of Oak Island, decorate their storm shutters before evacuating ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Oak Island, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.

Another joker said: 'Looks like tropical storm Floyd has penetrated Florence, we will be having a baby shower for the little sprinkle that's due in 9 months'. "It is imperative that everyone follow local evacuation orders". Authorities in Chatham County, Georgia, which borders SC and includes the historic port city of Savannah, urged residents who feel unsafe "to evacuate as they see fit". "With the storm expected to linger, power restoration work could take weeks instead of days".

Marshall: You mentioned some hefty winds here in the Charlotte area.

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