Hurricane Florence map uses an unfortunate graphic to display devastation

Federico Mansilla
Setiembre 14, 2018

He urged people to leave immediately rather than face the wrath of the "once in a lifetime" storm.

As the hurricane became larger and better organized Tuesday afternoon, mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) is now in a Level 2 enhanced monitoring operation, officials told 11Alive.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

It's a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with 130 miles per hour (215 kph) maximum sustained winds.

Still, high winds will potentially inflict severe or complete damage to buildings, snap tree limbs or even uproot them, and knock power and water lines out.

Byard, the FEMA official, said "this storm is not going to be a glancing blow". Broadline and discount retailers including Walmart(WMT) and Dollar General(DG) could see modest boosts to comparable sales, as last year's storms added at least 0.30 percentage point to Dollar General's and Walmart's USA same-store sales.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

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Meanwhile, those choosing to ride out the storm in evacuation zones are being told first responders will not be available to help them once Florence makes landfall.

Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency around noon Wednesday ahead of the storm that covered all 159 counties within Georgia. Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall is expected across portions of North and SC.

"It wants to get stronger", he said of the storm. "I'll be living there for a few days".

"Been through it!" Belli said, referring to Hurricane Hugo, which caused widespread damage in SC in 1989.

Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.

If these projections hold, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says "it's exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

The video, taken with a high-definition camera outside the International Space Station, shows a "stark and sobering view" of the Category 4 storm as it moves in a west-northwesterly direction across the Atlantic.

Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, if not more, with as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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