Hurricane Florence Shifts Course, Will Make a 'Grand Tour' of Southeastern States

South Carolina Highway Patrol cars escorting a line of vehicles as residents prepare ahead of Hurricane Florence's descent on Sept 11 2018. To speed evacuations officials in South Carolina reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all

Officials in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are imploring residents and visitors to evacuate coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Florence, with more than one million expected to flee.

Florence became a risky Category 3 hurricane Wednesday afternoon before it downgraded to a Category 2 Wednesday night with winds at 110mph.

With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.

Oddly, the closer Hurricane Florence gets to land, the murkier its future gets.

The storm is moving toward the northwest at 17 miles per hour, the NHC said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate along the coast of North and SC and Virginia, according to news reports.

Florence is becoming more of a threat to more people - now including some in Georgia - in more ways. "While we can't attribute this hurricane exclusively to climate change, we do expect these types of intense hurricanes to happen more often as the world warms".

A hurricane-hunter airplane measured 83-foot waves near the eye of Florence, according to a tweet from the National Hurricane Center.

"The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds, flooding is the deadliest result of these storms".

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The Miami-based NHC stressed, however, that while a slow weakening is expected over the next 24 hours "Florence is still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the US coast late Thursday and Friday".

Florence will bring large rainfall totals through Saturday in North Carolina, north SC and Virginia, causing catastrophic flash flooding.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. "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)". Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. All that said, a saturated ground, even with tropical storm-force winds, will uproot trees.

"This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary".

Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

Emergency preparations in the region included activating over 2,700 National Guard troops, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia. Mandatory evacuations of almost 2 million coastal residents in the Carolinas and Virginia continued Wednesday.

And if that isn't enough, Subtropical Storm Joyce formed in the North Atlantic Tuesday afternoon, but it's not expected to hit the U.S. The system is expected to drift to the southwest in the coming days.

"I don't care if this goes down to a Category 1", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said on Thursday.

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