People flee USA coast as Hurricane Florence nears Carolinas

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"With Florence strengthening into a hurricane this morning and continuing to move west, Florida families need to remain alert and remember that storms like this can change course and strengthen at any moment", said Gov. Rick Scott.

Hurricane Florence is predicted to slam into the US East Coast as a "major" storm.

"Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches with isolated maxima to 30 inches near Florence's track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia, and northern SC through Saturday".

The National Hurricane Centre has warned of "life-threatening" storm surges along the south-eastern seaboard and freshwater flooding due to a "prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event".

A satellite image provided by the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Florence churning southeast of the Eastern Seaboard early on the morning of September 11, 2018.

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The winds should diminish some late Friday in central North Carolina, but with the storm forecast to slow down or stall out, the rain may continue through the entire weekend.

NASA astronaut and current International Space Station resident Ricky Arnold was able to capture the sheer breadth of Hurricane Florence, while showcasing Isaac and an outer band of Helene in new photos posted on Twitter Monday.

Florence stands a significant chance of joining 2017's Harvey and Irma as just the third storm to make landfall on the U.S. mainland at category 4 strength (or higher) since 2005.

A hurricane watch has been issued for the East Coast from Edisto Beach, S.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

All eyes are on Hurricane Florence, now that it has intensified to a major Category 4 storm and is heading to the southeastern US coast.

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Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles from the center. The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

Image: A map showing the path of the hurricane. Mandatory evacuations have begun along North Carolina's coast.

Preparations for Florence are intensifying up and down the densely populated coast. But the season is just now peaking, and Hurricanes Florence, Isaac, and Helene are a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods yet.

"Today, let me be clear.North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should too".

"The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline".

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