Science

'Time running out' for residents to escape Hurricane Florence

'Time running out' for residents to escape Hurricane Florence

The NHC said the first tropical storm-force winds of at least 63 kph would hit the region early on Thursday with the storm's centre reaching the coast Friday.

"Bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size", Trump said Wednesday morning.

It is unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches for Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, so "you start to wonder what these models know that we don't", said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy. Meanwhile, Dominion Energy, the major electric utility in Virginia and North Carolina, expects many of its customers to lose power from Florence's intense winds and persistent rain, which could linger for days over a wide swath of the mid-Atlantic region.

At 11 a.m., Hurricane Florence was located about 485 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 520 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials switched traffic patterns so that all major roads led away from shore.

"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house", Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto.

He said the federal government was "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence. Rising water levels could leave coastal parts of North Carolina under 9 feet of water, the National Hurricane Center's director, Ken Graham, told CBS News on Tuesday.

Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3ft of rain, touching off severe flooding.




"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74.

"I rode out Hugo", Miller said of a 1989 hurricane that caused widespread damage.

"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood making sure my neighbours are fine because nobody can get in here". Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, rubbish bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. "We have everything. We're ready". "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely".

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

A hurricane warning was issued for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in", Cooper said.

In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state.

The NHC said Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, with Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique under a tropical storm warning.